Fun Giant Tortoise Facts For Kids

Christian Mba
Jan 14, 2023 By Christian Mba
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Abdulqudus Mojeed
Here are giant tortoise facts for kids about this reptile.

Giant tortoises are also referred to as the Galapagos Tortoise. These are easily the largest species of tortoises in the world and in fact, are one of the largest animals in the reptile class.

With staggering lifespans that extend to the lifespan of two human generations, these tortoises live a very slow and lethargic life wherein most of their time is spent taking mud baths and basking in the sun.

These reptiles are predominantly land-based creatures.

With their population numbers looking grave, scientists and conservation experts are trying their level best to prevent any more of their subspecies from going extinct. While this species is believed to be native to Galapagos Islands, they actually arrived from South America to Galapagos Islands around three million years ago.

There are 15 giant tortoise species, which include Pinta Island giant tortoise, Fernandina giant tortoise, Isabela Island giant tortoise, giant South African leopard tortoise, giant sulcata tortoise, giant desert tortoise, giant land tortoise, giant African tortoise and more. This animal is so famous that it is part of the famous game terraria.

Giant tortoise terraria farming is extremely popular with players. After reading these Galapagos giant tortoise facts, you may also look at aldabra giant tortoise facts and olive ridley sea turtle facts.

Giant Tortoise Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a giant tortoise?

The Galapagos giant tortoise belongs to the class of reptiles native to the Galapagos Islands. Scientifically called Chelonoidis nigra, it is easily the largest species of tortoise in the world with astonishing dimensions.

It is a cold-blooded animal. Therefor,e they spend hours altogether lazing in the sun to keep themselves warm. The giant tortoise doesn't have good hearing senses which is why they focus on the ability to see and smell the things and their surroundings.

What class of animal does a giant tortoise belong to?

The Galapagos giant tortoise belongs to the class of reptile or reptilia. They are lethargic animals who spend almost 16 hours every day resting and sleeping.

How many giant tortoises are there in the world?

Ever since the 16th century, Galapagos giant tortoise populations have been indiscriminately killed because human activity. Pirates and poachers, along with merchants, have killed them to eat their meat and sell them as pets. With many subspecies extremely vulnerable, today, the cumulative population of the Giant Tortoise is about 20,000 in number.

Where does a giant tortoise live?

Normally, the Galapagos giant tortoise population can only be found at two prime locations on Galapagos Islands, by the name of Alcedo Volcano on Isabela  and Santa Cruz highlands. Essentially, they are located on the Galapagos islands that have high-humidity lands close to them.

The size of these tortoises gets smaller when they live on islands that have less humidity in the atmosphere of their locations.

What is a giant tortoise's habitat?

This tortoise species is only found in the desolate archipelagos of the Galapagos Islands and Aldabra. Galapagos is an island located about 1000 kilometers away from Ecuador, and the Aldabra archipelago is located about 700 kilometers away from Tanzania.

Who do giant tortoises live with?

Generally, Galapagos giant tortoises are creatures who like living on their own. They come together usually for the purpose of procreation.

At the age of about 25 years, when they mature, giant tortoises begin actively trying to reproduce. Giant tortoises do, however, live close to their community of other giant tortoises. Unlike pack animals, however, giant tortoises don’t live interdependently.

How long does a giant tortoise live?

The fact of the matter is that the average Galapagos giant tortoise lifespan is 100 years. However, there have been countless reports of giant tortoises living up to the age of 150 and even older.

But the issue that arises is that since almost all tortoises outlive humans, these reports may not necessarily be reliable ones. The oldest giant tortoise today is named Jonathan and is nearly two centuries old at the age of 187 years!

How do they reproduce?

During the Galapagos giant tortoise mating season, which usually falls between the months of January and August, male giant tortoises find females they wish to procreate with by using their scent.

The initiation or wooing of the females takes place in an unusual manner during the breeding season wherein the males violently ram the females with their shells followed by violent nibbling of the females’ legs. Following reproductive coitus, the female giant turtle often finds dry areas and then lays a litter of ten eggs usually during the breeding season.

These tortoise eggs are generally about three inches big.

What is their conservation status?

The Galapagos giant tortoise is classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as a vulnerable species. Some other organizations, however, owing to their dwindling population numbers classify the giant tortoise as an endangered species.

The reason behind their IUCN Red List status as vulnerable due to poaching by humans for fresh meat. Efforts for conservation are being conducted to reverse their vulnerable status.

Giant Tortoise Fun facts

What do giant tortoises look like?

Giant tortoises look cumbersome, to begin with owing to their massive egg-shaped shell that is home to their body, neck, head, and legs. The Galapagos giant tortoise shell is normally textured by horny scutes.

According to their habitat, their shells can be completely dome-shaped where they don’t require much neck movement owing to the easily accessible vegetation, or they would like saddlebacks where they require increased neck movement to reach out to vegetation.

Giant tortoises are also called as Galapagos Tortoise

How cute are they?

Since Galapagos giant tortoises are herbivorous reptiles, they aren’t particularly intimidating despite their humongous size. However, more than cute, they are pretty creatures to look at owing to their unique shell patterns and colors.

How do they communicate?

Galapagos giant tortoises communicate using their behavior. Even when competing for female mates, they compete with each other by extending their necks out of their shells to see which of them can extend it the highest. Apart from this, Galapagos giant tortoises only make moans and grunts that sound much like the moo of cows while having intercourse.

How big is a giant tortoise?

Usually, the Galápagos giant tortoise can grow to about 5 ft in length. That is as much as an average adolescent.

How fast can a giant tortoise move?

A Galápagos giant tortoise, owing to its extremely slow metabolism, has a top speed of 0.20 mph

How much does a giant tortoise weigh?

Giant or Galapagos tortoises are known, rightfully so, as the giants of the tortoise world. In fact, these giant tortoises are a few of the largest reptiles in general.

In general, female giant tortoises can weigh as much as 251 lb, and male giant tortoises can weigh about 500 lb, almost double what the females weigh. There are quite a few giant tortoise that can grow to be as heavy as 950 lb.

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names designated for a female or a male giant tortoise. The males are referred to as male giant turtles while the females are referred to as female giant turtles.

What would you call a baby giant tortoise?

The baby of a giant tortoise is known as a hatchling.

What do they eat?

Giant tortoises have been known to consume vegetarian food. These large vertebrates feast on a diet of vegetation only.

The commonly observed foods for this reptile include cacti, vines, grasses of different types, fruit, and essentially any other plant that they can consume. Completely abstaining from meat, when necessary, they can also revert to their body fat, break it down and convert it into water.

Also, giant tortoises are among the few animals that can go months without consuming any food. With the ability to store water and nutrition in their bodies for up to a year, they can live quite comfortably without food or water.

Are they dangerous?

Generally, giant tortoises are quite gentle creatures and don’t bite unless provoked. But it should be noted that in the event it feels threatened, it could cause serious injury by biting you in an attempt to defend itself. Hence,  unless you provoke it, a giant tortoise is not really dangerous.

Would they make a good pet?

No, having a giant tortoise pet is not a good idea. The simple reason for this is that they are wild animals, and attempting to domesticate them will deprive them of the freedom they need to thrive.

Moreover, they are an endangered species and illegal to own according to international laws and some explicit national laws, such as in India and Madagascar.

Did you know...

While talking about the giant tortoises or the Galapagos tortoises, it is important to remember that there are several species grouped under this name owing to the fact that most of them exist at a single geographical location.

The grooves on the shells of giant tortoises cannot be used to determine their age.

Their two most common predators are the Galapagos Hawks and human beings.

The most famous giant tortoise was lonesome George upon whose death marked the extinction of the Pinta Island tortoise subspecies of the giant tortoise.

Having your own giant tortoise

As of today, despite some serious conservatory efforts, these tortoises are classified as endangered species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Therefore, it is not advisable to have your own pet giant tortoise.

A pond is the natural habitat of these animals and being naturally wild animals, these tortoises have been known to live a healthier life in the wild.

Moreover, owing to their conservation status of being an endangered species, owning a giant tortoise is illegal per International Law. Apart from that, owning giant tortoise pets is explicitly banned in countries like India and Madagascar to prevent illegal trade that is still quite prevalent across the globe.

What is the largest giant tortoise in the world?

The largest giant tortoise in the world is the Galapagos giant tortoise. The present record holder for being the largest giant tortoise according to the Guinness World Book of Records is one named Goliath, who measured 1.35 m in length and 1.02 m in width.

Goliath was about as tall as a child, measuring 0.68 m, and weighs an astonishing 920 lb.

Goliath is only closely contested for his world record by a giant tortoise from the Chagos Archipelago named Tring 184. He measured 1.34 m in length and weighed around 700 lb.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles including sand lizard facts, or bog turtle.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Giant Tortoise coloring pages.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Christian Mba

Bachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba picture

Christian MbaBachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba is an experienced blogger and content writer with over a decade of experience. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Nigeria and has a keen interest in Python programming. Along with his writing and blogging expertise, he is also an SEO specialist with more than six years of experience. Chris, as he is commonly known, has a passion for music and enjoys playing the piano.

Read full bio >
Fact-checked by Abdulqudus Mojeed

Bachelor of Law

Abdulqudus Mojeed picture

Abdulqudus MojeedBachelor of Law

A versatile professional with a passion for creative writing and technology. Abdulqudus is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Law from the University of Lagos and has experience as a tutor, intern assistant, and volunteer. He possesses strong organizational skills and is a detail-oriented person.

Read full bio >