Iguana Cove Tortoise/Isabela Island Giant Tortoise/Cerro Azul Giant Tortoise

ANIMAL:
Iguana Cove Tortoise/Isabela Island Giant Tortoise/Cerro Azul Giant Tortoise Chelonoidis vicina

Type of Animal:
Tortoise

Habitat:
Volcanic areas, sparsely vegetated areas, mud wallows, waterholes, lowland areas, moist cool highlands, areas near ponds, areas near lakes, mud lakes, deciduous forest, evergreen forest, dry grasslands-juveniles/subadults often stay in lower areas

Location(s):
Isabela Island in Galapagos

Appearance:
Thick heavy shell intermediate between saddleback & domed, males larger/more saddle-backed, females more domed, gray sometimes w/ dusty gray-brown, intermediate shell shape overall

Food/Diet:
Grasses, leaves, cacti/cactus pads, lichens, fruit, berries, melons, milkweed, bromeliads, water ferns, tomatoes, vines, flowers, herbs, algae, crustaceans, tree bark, carrots, bamboo stalks, forbs, stinging nettles

Status in Wild:
Endangered

Conservation:
Breeding in zoos & breeding centers. Arnaldo Tupiza Tortoise Breeding Center on Isabela Island breeds this species.

Lifestyle:
Herds range from 4-30 tortoises. Males are dominant.

Additional Info:

Called:
Male
Female
Young: Hatchling
Group: Herd

Weight:
Male: 400-550 lbs
Female: 250-330 lbs
 
Gestation:
6 months 

Life Span:
100 years in wild, 150 years in captivity

Height:
Male: 4-5 ft
Female: 2.95-3 ft

Body Length:
Male: 3.84 ft
Female: 3.05 ft

Tail Length:
Male: 11.8 in
Female: 3.9 in

Adults have no predators. Introduced dogs, cats, pigs, & rats as well as native Galapagos Hawks eat juveniles/hatchlings. Fire ants prey on newborns.
 
Endangered due to introduced predators eating hatchlings/eggs, competition w/ livestock for food, overgrazing, trampling of nests by livestock, habitat loss, agriculture, slow growth rate, late maturity (don’t reach maturity until 20 years old), & hunting for meat/oil/eggs.
 
Well-known for being gentle giants.
 
Like many reptiles, sex determined by egg temp, cooler sand temps mean more males & warmer sand temps mean more females.
 
Courtship is rough, w/ male ramming female w/ front of shell & nipping her exposed legs until she draws them in, immobilizing her.

Fun Fact(s):
They’re quite lazy, sleeping/resting for up to 16 hours a day.
 
Very slow-moving w/ average speed as low as 0.18 mph.
 
They can go for a year without eating/drinking.
 
Females dig holes in sand & pee all over it so sand doesn’t collapse on eggs.
 
Many accounts mention these animals & other Galapagos Tortoises were most edible creature ever encountered-16th century explorers thought it was better than chicken, beef, mutton, & butter. Oil from fat was useful against all kinds of maladies.

1 thought on “Iguana Cove Tortoise/Isabela Island Giant Tortoise/Cerro Azul Giant Tortoise

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