Geochelone gigantea

CLASS: Reptilia
ORDER: Chelonia
FAMILY: Testudinidae

SIZE:
Have been known to reah lengths of 4 feet and weigh close to 500 lbs.

RANGE:
Aldabra Islands in the Indian Ocean between Kenya and the northern tip of Madagascar

HABITAT:
Sandy places among rocks or in woodlands

DIET:
Wild - Mostly grazers feeding on wide variety of plants

Zoo - Apples, carrots, fish, monkey biscuits, lettuce, bananas -- Captive young are fond of canned dog food and grow faster when fed this (they are capable of going without food for several weeks without suffering)

FACTS:
Don't swim well and would drown in deep water, but seen to enjoy resting in shallow water.

Behavior is geared to temperature of surrounding air; movements are faster in warmer temperature; are intolerant of extremely high temperature; very susceptible in cold weather.

Well known for slow movement and long life span; are capable of reaching a speed of 2 mph over short distances. This is slow compared to other four legged animals, but it is nearly the walking speed of man. Generally move about 0.25 mph, taking up to 5 hours to walk one mile.

Known to live up to 150 years.

Although they are known as gentle giants they will bite. They tuck their head down inside their shell for protection. Shell is covered with hard scales made of keratin. Like human fingernails, a turtle can feel pressure through its shell.

YOUNG:
Very small, by 18 months still no larger than man's fist

STATUS:
CITES App. II; Vulnerable; suffer from predation by feral animals