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Galapagos Tortoise

  • Order: Testudines
  • Family: Testunidae
  • Genus: Chelonoidis
  • Species: nigra
Fun Fact

Galapagos is the Spanish word for tortoise. The Galapagos Islands are the only isolated islands where these tortoises can be found.

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About Galapagos Tortoises

Galapagos tortoises can range in size from 29 inches (shell length) and 60 pounds to 4 feet and 700 pounds. There is little variation in color. They are a dull brown all over. Males are typically larger than females. The plastron, or bottom shell, of the male is slightly dented which aids in mating. Like other tortoises, they have claws on their feet to aid in walking around on land, whereas turtles have webbed feet or flippers to aid in swimming.

Galapagos Tortoises in the Wild


Saddle-backed tortoises inhabit the hotter, drier islands with sparse vegetation. The dome-shelled tortoises usually inhabit the cooler, wetter islands with lush ground vegetation.


Galapagos tortoises inhabit the Galapagos Islands in the eastern Pacific Ocean, about 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador.


These tortoises are generally herbivores feeding on grasses, vines, cactus fruit and other vegetation. They will occasionally feed on carrion (dead animals). They store food and water so well that they can go without eating or drinking for up to one year.

Population Status

Currently listed as a “vulnerable species.”

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