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Aldabra Tortoise (Seychelles Giant Tortoise)

Aldabra Tortoise

Aldabra tortoises are known for being one of the world’s largest land tortoises and they can also live up to 150 years old.

With that being said, they can be greatly rewarding pets that will stick around for a very long time, even long after you’re gone.

As long as you have the time and space they will need to lead a healthy and happy life, they can be an amazing generational pet to pass on to another responsible adult after they outlive you.

As with any pet, you want to be able to dedicate your time and love in order to be able to give them a happier life than they would have had in the wild. Sometimes we just want to spoil them.

In order to do so, you will want to do your research on how to keep them healthy and how to properly provide the husbandry they need.

If you are curious as to how you can do that for your Aldabra Tortoise, we’ve got everything you need, right here.

Here are some things you should know about keeping and caring for the big, beautiful Aldabra Tortoise:

Aldabra Tortoise Quick Reference Section

2 Aldabra-Tortoises in their enclosure
2 Aldabra Tortoises in their enclosure
  • Experience Level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Scientific Name: Aldabrachelys gigantea
  • Alternate Name(s): Seychelles Giant Tortoise, Aldabra Giant Tortoise
  • Family: Testudinidae
  • Size: 3 to 4 feet
  • Weight: 350 to 500 lbs (depending on sex; males weigh more)
  • Diet: Herbivorous
  • Lifespan: 80 to 150 years
  • Where to buy: Tortoisetown.com

Aldabra Tortoise Facts

  • The average weight of an adult male Aldabra is approximately 550 pounds, but there are few that are known to have grown as heavy as nearly 800 pounds.
  • There is a Seychelles Giant Tortoise in Saint Helena named Johnathan, who had exceeded his species’s average life expectancy of 150 years, and he is currently 189 years old.

 Aldabra Tortoise Appearance

Aldabra-Tortoise
Aldabra Tortoise walking on grass

These large, round beauties have a dark grey to black colored, highly domed, thick carapace with patterned bumps all throughout its back.

Aldabras will also have a small neck plate that differentiates them from other species of giant tortoises.

Males will have a concaved plastron, which is supposed to assist in mating more easily.

Aldabra Tortoise Location and Natural Habitat

Aldabra Tortoises are native to Aldabra Atoll, islands off Seychelles, which is a country in East Africa, Northeast of Madagascar.

They naturally live in various environments ranging from coastal dune areas and mangrove swamps to scrub forests and grasslands. Most of them can be found in platin grasslands similar to ones that African and Asian elephants like to roam.

They enjoy hot weather anywhere from 80 to 95 degrees with around 55 to 65 percent humidity. However, the humidity in these areas may go up to as high as 85 percent for a few months during the rainy season.

 Aldabra Tortoise Diet

These guys are mainly herbivorous, feeding on the plants, grass, leaves, stems, and weeds in their natural environment. Very occasionally, they will eat a few insects and tortoise carcasses, but this is only if they are available.

They are grazers and will slowly browse around for what is available at mouth’s reach. That usually ends up being woody plants and grass.

They get a lot of fiber and calcium through their greens and may get some protein through the invertebrates they occasionally eat. They do not require much protein and may only eat more while they are still growing since it is more essential during their development.

They can survive a long time without food or water and studies have shown that they do not compete for food.

 Aldabra Tortoise Lifespan

Aldabra tortoises have very high longevity, averaging about 100 to 150 years of age. As we mentioned in our ‘Facts’ section, you can read about Johnathan, hatched in 1832, who is the oldest known Seychelles giant tortoise, which is a subspecies of the Aldabra. Learn more about him here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_(tortoise)

Some of these tortoises have been known to live up to more than 250 years, meaning anyone who will care for them needs to keep this in mind and prepare for their long, long lives.

 Aldabra Tortoise Breeding Habits

Giant Seychelle Tortoises mating also known as Aldabra Tortoises
Giant Seychelle Tortoises mating also known as Aldabra Tortoises

Aldabra tortoises do not reach sexual maturity until they are about 20 to 30 years old.

They usually breed between the months of February and May.

The female can lay anywhere from 9 to 25 eggs multiple times per year, but usually, only less than half of the eggs are fertile.

Incubation temperatures must be between 81 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit, which may cause them to hatch in about 90 to 108 days.

If timelines are accurate, she may have hatchlings between October and December, following their natural breeding habits.

Predators of the Aldabra Tortoise

The biggest predators of the Aldabra Tortoise are humans. They are vulnerable to endangerment due to human poaching and intrusion of their territory.

When they are younger, they must be wary of giant crabs as well as cats as predators too since these animals hunt the Aldabra in the areas they originate in.

They are not fast animals at all and can only defend themselves by blending into their surroundings with their coloration. This is all they have against their predators.

 Aldabra Tortoise Legality

Check with your Department of Natural Resources or US Fish and Wildlife Services to double-check that there are no state-specific regulations that outlaw tortoise ownership.

They may have it listed on their website for your state or you might need to give them a call but you should find out the legal species for your specific location since it really is on a state-by-state basis.

In most cases, it is not illegal to own a tortoise, but some species may require permits to cross state lines.

It seems none of the commonly available non-native ones have any restrictions at all so any legal prohibitions would be on a state or local level.

 If you wish to sell them across state lines, the recipient needs to have a “Captive Bred Wildlife” permit, which is not difficult to get.

Where to Buy Aldabra Tortoises

You can buy Aldabra tortoises at reptile shows, reptile stores, and on the Internet. There are many places online and reputable sites that sell captive-bred tortoises.

The reason why you want captive-bred or commercial tortoises is due to the ability to choose your tortoises, the fact that your species choices won’t be limited to local or native species, you’re not involving in the depletion of the wild population, and captive-bred tortoises will already be acclimated to captivity.

Prices for a captive-bred Aldabra tortoise run in the general price range of $2,000 to $4,000 but can go all the way up past $20,000, depending on size. Their prices make them a little bit exclusive and caring for them will take a lot of time, care, and commitment.

Aldabra Tortoise Care

Aldabra Tortoises with caretaker
Aldabra Tortoises with caretaker

Enclosure

Aldabra Tortoises can grow to be very large and will need to roam the outdoors. This means you will have to provide them with an open-air enclosure that can supply them with all that they need in one place.

You want to keep them in an environment that is as close to their natural habitat as you can possibly get meaning grassy areas, high heat, higher humidity, and a proper hide.

For smaller tortoises up to a year old, they can make a home out of tortoise tubs with bark or crushed coconut but this will only give you the time to prepare and build their real enclosure.

When keeping an Aldabra tortoise as a pet, you want to consider that they are considered giant tortoises and will need lots of space to freely roam.

The wall around their enclosure should be a little over 2 feet tall and their paddock area should be at least 30 by 30 feet. These tortoises can grow up to 4 feet long, so this size enclosure should be fine per tortoise.

If you are raising a young Aldabra, 5 by 5 feet should be fine for an 8-inch tortoise.

Make sure you install an easy-to-open, lockable door so that you can properly enter the area to feed and care for them.

If you are thinking of keeping more than one, keep the Aldabra tortoise size and lifespan in mind when planning your enclosure for multiple Aldabras. Also, remember to give them sufficient space per tortoise.

As with most captive animals, bigger is better so if you have more space to give them, we say go for it. Anything to give them a more meaningful and rewarding life.

Cleaning

Their waste should be removed on a regular basis, at least daily if there is any to remove.

Change their drinking and soaking water often.

Remove any dead insects or animals from inside their enclosure if they happen to slip in.

If you are feeding them commercial tortoise food, make sure you take the time to change it and replenish it if it is uneaten after a while to avoid molding.

Substrate

A suitable substrate for the Aldabra Giant Tortoise includes a mix of hay, sand, dirt, aspen bedding, potting mix, dried weeds, and cypress mulch.

They sometimes like to sit in small burrows or small earth concaves they made for themselves.

Temperature

When it comes to Aldabra Tortoise care, you have to make sure that you are providing them with the temperatures they need since it is crucial for their growth and overall health.

Temperatures might be the most important part of their care, meaning they should be monitored and checked carefully.

They require an ambient temperature of about 80 to 95 degrees, meaning you might need some lights if you are in a climate that is not typically warm.

They will need a hot spot of at least 90 degrees Fahrenheit and a cool spot of no less than 75 degrees Fahrenheit somewhere throughout their enclosure.

If you live in a colder climate, they must be provided with a warm retreat.

Humidity

They thrive in humidity levels anywhere from 55 to 65 percent.

However, they can withstand levels as high as 85 percent, since they go through a 2 to 3-month rainy season in their natural habitat. This only means that they do best in high-humidity climates and are not sensitive to it.

Just check to make sure that the relative humidity is around 55 to 65 percent in their enclosure, replenish their water bowls often, and don’t allow them to dry out.

Dehydration can cause their shell to grow differently to a more pyramid-like shape.

Provide them with a shallow soaking dish and you might want to spray the vegetation in their enclosure to keep them well hydrated.

Some owners may even install a spritzing or fog system that will humidify their enclosure in the morning then dry out during the day.

Lighting

Install heat emitters, heat lamps, and large outdoor heat pads in your tortoise house, to maintain a proper temperature even for the seasons when the weather outside is colder.

You can also install mercury vapor lights in order to heat their enclosure since they can provide both UV and heat in one fixture.

Accessories

Aldabra tortoises, interestingly enough, love getting into and playing in mud holes. If possible, build a mud hole or a shallow pond for them so that they can soak when they choose.

They are surprisingly good swimmers, unlike most tortoises, and enjoy the extra splash of water when they have the opportunity.

Feeding

In captivity, you can feed them all sorts of leafy greens, grasses, broadleaf weeds, flowers, grass, cactus pads, and of course, commercial tortoise food.

While they also like fruits such as melons, strawberries, apples, you should feed these occasionally as a treat.

You should add calcium carbonate into their food or provide your tortoise with cuttlefish bone at all times since it is a natural source of calcium and phosphorus.

These will promote healthy bone structure and help your tortoise grow to be stronger. You can just leave a couple at a time in your tortoise’s enclosure and they will eat it when they want.

Temperament

Aldabra Tortoise for sale

Aldabra tortoises usually are more active and will move around more in the morning.

They will spend this time as well as their early evenings eating before moving into the shade, their small burrows, or in shallow water holes during hotter parts of the day.

They seem to react well to humans that have a treat in their hands and may walk toward you when presented with it.

However, if they are frightened, they may try to sprint away from you.

They are generally docile and peaceful creatures, laid-back just doing their thing. They will be relaxed once they know you aren’t a threat.

It is more so the younger Aldabras that might show skittish behavior, but this can go away with time and some getting used to.

They are actually pretty smart and can familiarize themselves with their owners and may actually recognize you after some time. They use body language and sometimes even small noises to show their affection.

Handling

As mentioned previously, they can be a little skittish when they first arrive at their new home and may need some time to become accustomed to you handling them while they are still at a handleable size.

Give them some time, go slowly, and be patient. All in all, they are not generally aggressive creatures. They just might be scared of you when they first see you.

While some species of tortoises are known to actually like physical touch and may even like their necks rubbed, they might also just be tolerating it to get food from you.

Overall, handling them should not be too much of an issue and as they grow bigger, they feel less vulnerable due to their great size.

 Aldabra Tortoise FAQ

Aldabra-Tortoise walking on red stones
Aldabra-Tortoise walking on red stones

Are Aldabra Tortoises good pets?

Yes! They can make awesome pets if you have the time, space, and ability to take care of them. It takes a lot of effort to give them the home that they need to be healthy and happy, but it can be very rewarding in the end.

What is another name for the Aldabra Giant Tortoise?

While they are actually a subspecies of the Aldabra, the Seychelles Giant Tortoise may also be used to call your Aldabra Giant Tortoise since that is the country these island tortoises are native to. Aldabra Tortoises are native to Aldabra Atoll, islands off Seychelles, which is a country in East Africa, Northeast of Madagascar.

How long do Aldabra Tortoises live?

They can live anywhere from 80 to 150 years of age. However, some individuals of this species have surpassed their life expectancy by living up well past 200 years old!

What is the scientific name for the Aldabra Giant Tortoise?

The scientific name for Aldabra Giant Tortoises is Aldabrachelys gigantea.

What family do Aldabra Giant Tortoises belong to?

Aldabra Giant Tortoises, or Aldabrachelys gigantea, belong to the family Testudinidae.

What kingdom do Aldabra Giant Tortoises belong to?

Aldabra Giant Tortoises, or Aldabrachelys gigantea, belong to the kingdom Animalia.

What phylum do Aldabra Giant Tortoises belong to?

Aldabra Giant Tortoises, or Aldabrachelys gigantea, belong to the phylum Chordata.

What order do Aldabra Giant Tortoises belong to?

Aldabra Giant Tortoises, or Aldabrachelys gigantea, belong to the order Testudines.

What genus do Aldabra Giant Tortoises belong to?

Aldabra Giant Tortoises, or Aldabrachelys gigantea, belong to the genus Aldabrachelys.

Can you own a Giant Tortoise?

Yes. They are a popular pet and can be great to have around if you are ready for the lifelong commitment of one.

What type of covering do Aldabra Giant Tortoises have?

Because Aldabra Giant Tortoises belong to the order Testudines, they can be categorized by their unique bony scales, called scutes, which are part of the epidermis of their head and limbs.

Where do Aldabra Giant Tortoises live?

Aldabra Tortoises are native to Aldabra Atoll, islands off Seychelles, which is a country in East Africa, Northeast of Madagascar.

What is a baby Aldabra Giant Tortoise called?

A baby Aldabra Giant Tortoise is called a hatchling.

How much does an Aldabra Tortoise cost?

Prices for a captive-bred Aldabra tortoise run in the general price range of $2,000 to $4,000 but can go all the way up past $20,000, depending on size.

How many Aldabra Tortoises are left?

The main and largest population of the Aldabra Giant Tortoise remains protected on their native islands of Aldabra Atoll in Seychelles. About 100,000 giant tortoises are residing there, protected from poachers and other human influence.

The Aldabra Tortoise is the only remaining kind of the former 18 tortoise species that previously thrived on the islands of the Indian Ocean. They are now extinct due to human interference and poaching, which is why they are now under these protections.

Besides this island of giant tortoises, if we count how many there might be in the rest of the world, the population is estimated to be as high as 200,000 Aldabra tortoises.

What are some predators of Aldabra Giant Tortoises?

For all time, it was human poachers. For hatchlings and younger Aldabra Tortoises, predators include cats and the giant crabs of the island.

How many species of Aldabra Giant Tortoise are there?

There are four subspecies of Aldabra giant tortoises. These include:

  1. Aldabrachelys gigantea gigantea, also known as the Aldabra Giant Tortoise.
  2. Aldabrachelys gigantea arnoldi, also known as Arnold’s Giant Tortoise or the Seychelles Saddle-backed Giant Tortoise.
  3. Aldabrachelys gigantea daudinii, which have been extinct since 1830-1850.
  4. Aldabrachelys gigantea hololissa, also known as the Seychelles giant tortoise.

How fast is an Aldabra Giant Tortoise?

Aldabra Giant Tortoises can walk at an average speed of about 0.3 miles per hour.

How many eggs do Aldabra Tortoises lay?

Female Aldabra Tortoises can lay anywhere from 9 to 25 eggs multiple times per year, but usually, only less than half of the eggs are fertile.

What is the biggest threat to the Aldabra Giant Tortoise?

Humans. In the past, it was poaching but today, their biggest threat is habitat loss due to human influence as well as climate change, which is also arguably a human contribution.

Conclusion

The Aldabra Giant Tortoises can be a really awesome, beautiful, and rewarding pet. It is only suitable for those who understand their need and are ready as well as willing to provide for them for years to come.

When putting in the effort and time to care for them, you will be happy to see them happy to cohabit with you. They’re great to look at and can actually make a connection with you as well.

We once believed that the world sits on a giant turtle’s shell, so it’s important that you see them as the ethereal and smart being that your tortoise is.

Take care of them and give them the love they need so that you can enjoy their presence and give them the life that they deserve!

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