Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Wildlife Wednesday - Galapagos Tortoise

Galapagos Tortoise and my Dad
Another zoo animal today - the Galapagos Tortoise. At the display, there was a 'poster' with breeding information...and I had to take the photo for my post. Hope you can read it when you get to the end!

The Australian Reptile Park web page has some good information which you can read here.

The Galapagos Tortoise can weigh up to 180 kg, with a shell that can be over a metre in length. They come from the Galapagos Islands (funny that, hey?) and each island has its own subspecies. They eat any green vegetable.

Galapagos Tortoise
Breeding occurs between January and June, and mating occurs when a male overpowers a female and immobilises them with their weight. The female lays 2-20 tennis-ball-sized eggs, which incubate for between 4 and 8 months. Young hatch between November and April.

Galapagos Tortoise Toenails
The Taronga Zoo website has some more information. Galapagos Tortoises are the largest tortoises in the world. An estimated 200 000 tortoises were eaten in the past by sailors, whalers and pirates. Less than 20 000 remain. Western Plains Zoo achieved the first hatchling, as part of the national breeding program, in March 2011. (I have a really blurry photo of the baby through glass. It's only the size of a small dinner plate).

Oh, now the Taronga Zoo website has much better mating details. I'll copy it here:

"Courting has been said to begin with the male ramming the female with the front of his shell and nipping her exposed legs until she draws them in, immobilizing herself. However our keepers have also observed that copulation can occur by the female elevating the back end of her shell and stretching her cloaca open and positioned towards him. Our female tortoise has even been observed to help the male with his aim, guiding him with her back feet."

That's a little more romantic than the earlier info about the female being squashed beneath his weight!!

They are slow moving animals, with a speed of 0.25 km/hr...but we saw them moving in for feeding and there was a bit of speed on then!

Galapagos Tortoise Breeding

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