The Aldabra Village Information Page -
Giant Aldabra Tortoise
Aldabra Tortoise (Geochelone gigantea)
Aldabra tortoises are found on the islands of the Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles, and they are one of the largest tortoises in the world (the largest tortoise on record being the Galapagos tortoise – Geochelone nigra). Aldabra tortoises have a varied habitat on their home and introduced islands, ranging from mangrove swamps and coastal dune areas to grasslands and scrub forests.
The Aldabra tortoise is becoming more commonly available in the pet trade the world over, but it is still considered one of the more specialized tortoises. The Aldabra tortoise, because of its potential large size, requires a good deal of space and special consideration. Moving a tortoise that is more than 200 lbs is bad enough, but moving one that is more than 400 lbs can be problematic especially if the animal does not want to move or cannot. The Aldabra tortoise is only protected as far as trade so no special permits are required to keep and maintain these in captivity.
Aldabra tortoises are adaptable and seem to be very cold tolerant, but they are still going to require supplemental heating to maintain a recommended temperature of 75 to 100 Fahrenheit. These tortoises, while being able to withstand low temperatures, do seem to prefer higher temperatures.
The diet for the Aldabra tortoise in the wild consists mostly of weeds and grasses with occasional brows mixed in. In captivity they will eat almost anything. The suggested diet is a variety of dark leafy greens and grasses in addition a good mix of vegetables. It’s recommended to restrict the feeding of cabbages because of the propensity to develop thyroid problems among the giant tortoises due to a lack of dietary iodine. Providing as varied a diet as possible will usually alleviate any dietary deficiencies.
Water should be provided at all times. Captive Aldabras consume great amounts of water if it is available.
Aldabra Tortoise Size
The average weight of an adult male Aldabra tortoise is approximately 550 pounds.
Aldabra Tortoise Life Span
Aldabra tortoises are long lived, some having reached more than 250 years of age. The oldest known Aldabra in captivity at the time of this writing is 183 years old.
Aldabra Tortoise Diet
Aldabra tortoises are mostly herbivores. In the wild, they eat grass, leaves, plants, stems and other tasty weeds. They will also feed on insects and dead animals, even their own kind. In captivity they will eat grass, flowers, cactus pads, all sorts of leafy greens and commercial tortoise food. They also like fruit and melons.
Aldabra Tortoise Behavior and Life History
Aldabra tortoises spend the mornings and early evenings eating, and they spend the hotter parts of the day in the shade or lounging in shallow water holes. They are deceptively quick when they want to be and will actually sprint away if frightened. If they think you have a treat for them they will sprint right to you.
Aldabra Tortoise Housing
Keeping Aldabra tortoises outdoors is usually the best way to house them. Hatchlings up to 2 years old can be housed indoors, but once they get beyond that, they need the great outdoors to roam. For babies up to a year old, tortoise tubs or the equivalent work very well. Use bark or crushed coconut for the bottom of the enclosure. Provide a hotspot of about 90 degrees Fahrenheit at one end of the enclosure with an ambient temperature of about 80 degrees. Mercury vapor lights work well for this, as they provide both UVB and heat all in one fixture.
Aldabra tortoises get large, so as a rule of thumb, the bigger the outdoor enclosure, the better. I house mine in a pen made of ornate cinder blocks. The wall is a bit over two feet tall, and the paddock area is 100 feet by 30 feet. Depending on how many you plan to house, the size of your paddock can vary. Aldabra tortoises do best at temperatures of 80 to 95 degrees. Provide your tortoise house with heat lamps, heat emitters and/or large outdoor-use heat pads (“pig blankets”) to maintain the proper temperature even when the weather outside is cold. The entrance to the house should be large enough for the tortoise to easily enter and exit, and a door is handy to lock the tortoise inside on very cold days or nights. Aldabra tortoises love mudholes, and if you can build one, or a shallow pond for them to soak in, they will be very content. Unlike most tortoises, they are also good swimmers.
Aldabra Tortoise Breeding
Between February and May, females lay anywhere from nine and 25 eggs in a shallow nest. Usually less than half of the eggs are fertile. Females can produce multiple clutches of eggs in a year. After incubating, the tiny tortoises hatch between October and December.
Artificial incubation works best. However, if you incubate the eggs at between 81 to 86 degrees, they will usually hatch in less time, about 90 to 108 days.
Aldabra Tortoise Considerations
Aldabra tortoises get very large and live a very long time. They need lots of space, special habitat setups and a bit of care. They make very rewarding pets as long as you have the time and space to dedicate to their needs. You’ll more than likely have to arrange for their long-term care in advance since they are probably going to outlive you. They are smart, personable and very entertaining. I find that after a long day at work, just sitting outside and watching them eat can calm the nerves of a hectic day.
Colour: Black, Brown, Tan
Skin Type: Scales
Size (L): 90cm – 120cm (3ft – 4ft)
Weight: 150kg – 250kg (330lbs – 550lbs)
Top Speed: 0.5kph (0.3mph)
Prey: Grasses, Leaves, Flowers
Predators: Giant Crab, Humans, Cats, Dogs, Rats, Lizards