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Aldabra Tortoise Care Sheet

Scientific Facts

Common Name:Aldabra Tortoise
Scientific Name:Aldabrachelys Gigantea
Life Span:150+ years
Size:Average 48 inches in length
Habitat:Mangrove swamps, scrub areas, and coastal dunes
Country of Origin:The Indian Ocean east of Africa

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Physical Description

The Aldabra Tortoise, popular for its blasted size, is a gigantic animal that lives an extensive life, encompassing an impressive age of 255 years based on the recent records. The hefty shell of Aldabra tortoise is similar to a thickly constructed armor plate that shields its sensitive body within. The shell is commonly formed like a dome, a massive plate that protects the delicate vital organs of the reptile underneath. Their high shell lets them discharge heat.

One can easily identify an Aldabra Tortoise through its thick shell that has a diameter that ranges from 3 to 4 feet and has a unique color that can either be blackish-gray or dark brown. Its legs are thick and short permits it to carry the massive weight of the shell. They are lavishly coated in scales, a variation which improves adaptability as it hauls its enormous weight around. The hind legs are columnar and cylindrical like the legs of elephants – thick and commonly covered by bony scales. They have two-jointed toes, and they are curtailed. The head is comparably small in size, pointed, and coated with scales.

Aldabra tortoises are sexually occurring in two unique forms – implying that there are distinctions in physical appearance between the male tortoises and female tortoises. Male is relatively bigger than the female tortoise, and their tails are also thicker and longer. The length of the carapace in male tortoise measures 4 feet and weighs up to 250 kilograms. Female tortoise, on the other hand, has a carapace that measures 3 feet and weighs around 159 kilograms.

Displaying a remarkably long neck and a thick tail, the Aldabra tortoise gathers food from points of supply which are well over the ground. Its long neck is a special variation that can conveniently repeal into the shell and outwardly lengthens if needed.

Lifespan

It is theorized that Aldabra tortoises have the most extensive lifespan among all living animals. Even though there is no particular evidence to confirm this, it is considered that they can get through easily for over 100 years. There were records of an Aldabra tortoise reaching an age of 255 years; nonetheless, this specific species was raised in captivity.

Overall, the lengthy lifespan of Aldabra tortoise is a kind of circumstance because of which this animal inhabits an unsociable life and relinquishes in a confined habitat, where the natural predators are not present.

Eating Habits

Aldabra tortoises are the biggest animal on the reef of Aldabra Island. It executes a similar character to the one filled by the elephants in Asia and Africa. These tortoises begin to feed early in the morning before the heat of the sun gets high when the dew is heavy on the grass. Tortoises have been recognized to crush shrubs and small trees to get nutritious leaves. Seeds go through the digestive tract of the tortoise and ultimately turn food to other species.

Aldabra tortoises can still survive without any intake of food and water for an extensive period. They are browsers and grazers, essentially nourishing on woody plants and grasses. Nevertheless, they still feed on meat if it is available and may even eat dead bodies of tortoises. They also feed on feces.

Aldabra tortoises in Zoo eat hay and salad 3 days in a week. During summer, they have the avenue to the outdoor courtyard where they feed on weeds and grasses. Their diet is added with sweet potatoes, carrots, cactus pad, and various browse.

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Sleeping Habits

Aldabra tortoises spend more than half of the day sleeping. They will flounder in mud to shield themselves against the mosquitoes. These tortoises get an average sleep of 18 hours within the 24 hours, though this figure greatly differs among individuals.

Development and Reproduction

Aldabra tortoises can easily reach a lifespan of over 100 years. Nevertheless, recording the actual age of an individual is complicated as comprehensive documentation from past centuries commonly does not appear. Reproduction in these tortoises is the same as the many terrestrial turtles.

Maturity is identified through size instead of age. Many tortoises start to reproduce once they reach half their completely-grown size, at about the age of 25 years. Mating is a clamorous process. The male tortoise is howling, similar to a bull, and running down the female tortoise. The sexual intercourse lasts for 10 to 15 minutes.

Female tortoises carry the eggs for around 10 weeks. The clutch size ranges from 9 to 25 eggs, which are similar to the size of tennis balls and are laid between February and May into a barren, hollow nest on the surface, making them specifically susceptible to being fed by made known predators. Commonly, only 3 out of 5 feasible young are formed from the clutch.

The hatching periods can be affected by the temperature, and the baby tortoises can turn up anytime from 3.5 to 7 months after, commonly concurring with the coming of the rainy season. Young tortoises are susceptible to the assaults of the predators like the crabs and birds until the shells start to amalgamate, and their weight reaches around 15 to 20 pounds.

In a large population, female Aldabra tortoises can only lay 4 to 5 eggs every few numbers of years, while in a low population, females may lay more clutches every year. Incubation is around 4 months. The females can nest two times in one season.

In courting, the male tortoise bashes his shell against the female tortoise a dozen times or even more. The male tortoise creates a profound, blaring call when mating. Growth carries on for life.

Aldabra tortoises are exposed to extinction because of habitat loss, hunting, and non-legal trading of pet, and introduced voracious species which will devour tortoise babies and eggs.

How to Breed

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Determining the Sexes

Before you proceed with the breeding, you must learn how to determine the sexes of your Aldabra tortoises. There are several methods to do it. First is by checking its shell. Gently hold the tortoise using your both hands. Hold it sufficiently high for you to properly see its underneath. You mustn’t twist the Aldabra tortoise on its back because it can be greatly stressful. The underneath shell is known as plastron. If you notice a concaved or indented plastron, then it is a male tortoise. The indented plastron allows the male tortoise to easily climb on a female tortoise.  Otherwise, if you notice that the plastron is convex or flat, the tortoise is a female. A flat plastron allows the female tortoise to carry many eggs.

Another way to check the sexes of tortoises is through their tails. You may determine the sex of your tortoise through the length of the tail. Tails of tortoises have no set length. Nevertheless, males have longer tails compared to females. You may also observe the males have tails that are moving sideways.

If you do not have the confidence to do the checking on your own, you may consider getting an expert opinion. Contact an expert vet. Bring your Aldabra tortoise to your vet to be sexed. Just make sure that the tortoise is completely mature; otherwise, your vet may not be able to correctly identify the sex of your tortoise.

Courtship and Mating

Male tortoises will fight with other male tortoises for their territory and breeding rights. Attempts for mating only happen if a tortoise is aggressive, early in the morning, or late in the evening. Jumping on ends from random encounters, however, it is feasible that male tortoises go through a moment of intensive sexual activity during the season of mating.

The onset of the mating attempt starts with a male tortoise getting near to a female tortoise and mounting onto her back with his neck completely extended. While on this position, the male tortoise pushes off the forefeet and pushes hard forward, and around 44 thrusts are executed. There are times that the male happens to gnaw the head of the female.

Most of the time, the female will react to the mounting of the male by pulling out or bracing herself up with her forelegs, compelling her hoist into the ground, and knocking loose the male. Males happen to be indiscriminately sexually aggressive in their choice of potential partners, not all of which are essentially female. One discriminating benchmark is the corresponding size of the partner. Male tortoises with a shell length of 50 cm or lengthier largely will only choose smaller partners with a length that ranges from 45 and 65 cm. A lot of mating attempts are not triumphant.

Eggs and Incubation

The season of breeding of Aldabra tortoise happens from February to May. Female tortoises produce between 4 and 14 eggs in a hollow, dry nest, of which less than half of it is fertile.  The normal size of the clutch improves in captivity, where the female tortoises produce around 9 to 25 eggs. The period of incubation is hugely determined by the temperature. In cooler temperatures, hatchlings crop up after around 250 days of incubation, while in warm temperatures, incubation ends for 110 days, between October and December. Female tortoises commonly do a second clutch within one breeding season, particularly in uncrowded, healthy populations.

Similar to other turtles, Aldabra tortoises have no particular attention to their young once the female tortoise has hoarded the eggs in a secure nest. The young come up and clears away from the nest on their own.

Common Health Problems

Stomatitis

Stomatitis, widely recognized as mouth rot, is a prevailing ailment triggered once a bacteria in the mouth find entry to an accessible wound and creates an infection in the linings of the mouth and gums. This condition is commonly identified by some manifestations such as swelling or change of color in the gums and mouth, white emission encompassing the mouth, and loss in appetite. If you have a suspicion that your Aldabra tortoise has stomatitis, consult an expert veterinarian to get advice and make sure to provide your tortoise proper supply of clean water.

Infectious Diseases

Tortoises have a few numbers of infectious diseases such as mycoplasma and chelonian herpesvirus; these commonly lead to runny noses. Prohibition may be attained through quarantine isolation of new Aldabra tortoises and appropriately not putting various species together, particularly blending tropical species with Mediterranean species.

If you are experiencing these kinds of diseases in your tortoise, consult your expert veterinarian.

Parasitic Infections

Similar to other animals, Aldabra tortoises are also sensitive to parasitic infections. You may see the presence of worms in the poo of your tortoise; however, they can be hard to notice. Often, parasitic infections are determined by an expert reptile veterinarian.

Symptoms of parasitic infections include diarrhoea, loss of appetite, or overall indications of being sick. If you notice any of these manifestations, consult your expert veterinarian.

Stomach Problems

Aldabra tortoises may also suffer from constipation or diarrhoea, just like other animals. Stomach problems commonly occur, but not all the time, indications of an inadequate diet. If your pet ceases from going to the toilet, constipation is likely happening. If that is the case, consider talking to an expert veterinarian.

If your Aldabra tortoise experiences diarrhoea, see to it that you feed it with the appropriate diet. Regularly bathe it with warm water to inhibit dehydration; however, it is still best to immediately bring it to an expert vet.

Skin and Shell Problems

Tortoises are likely to develop conditions that affect the shell and the skin, specifically abscesses, which is a prevailing cause of the swelling.

Shell rot is a prevailing condition that is commonly caused by injuries or ticks. Shell rot can either be fungal or bacterial, and medication may include sedation and getting rid of infected tissue and washing the shell, and injection of antibiotics. Talk to your expert veterinarian if you notice any indications of shell or skin conditions in your Aldabra tortoise.

Preventing Illnesses

Aldabra tortoises are great pets. You may prevent illnesses from occurring if you provide them with a balanced, appropriately allocated diet, a great origin of UV light, and correct levels of heat. However, if, for some reason, your tortoise still gets health problems, the best thing to be done is to consult your expert veterinarian to get proper treatment for your pet.

Behavior

Aldabra tortoises are mundane and have very predictable habits. They are commonly first on the scene and are active in the daytime. It normally begins its day by searching for food in the morning in the open and large spaces of grasslands or looks for decaying matters in muddy swamps. The species immerses itself into several hustles such as eating, sleeping, mating, walking, and stretching. While waddling around, with their heads bowed, they nearly trim off the grass and other plants using their strong jaws, abandoning a revealing path where they have feed on. They can be seen either independently or in a large group where a lot of food is available. Nevertheless, they can survive with no food for weeks.

In the wild, this animal is noticed to stand in their sturdy hind legs and make use of their feet in burrowing while looking for food. While the temperature increases during the daytime, the tortoise eases off into burrows below ground or relaxes in swamps or under shaded bushes to break away from the heat. Tortoise is easily tamed by people. They do not get alarmed with the presence of a human; instead, they manage to endure with their common hustles. This relatively detached behavior sometimes turns its disadvantage as it permits the predators, particularly humans, to get near it without displaying any indication of instinctive physiological reaction. Aldabra tortoises are not difficult to manage and may learn to recognize their keepers within a short period.

Nevertheless, they have armor that makes bigger varieties almost indestructible to assault by any of the animals seen in their homes. If their shell is ruined, it will rejuvenate provided that the spinal cord is not harmed. If they sense a threat, they rapidly draw in their heads with a blaring buzzing sound and move their front plated legs together. Further, they tuck their tails to create another defense. Even though they are commonly characterized as quiet creatures, they do create groaning noises.

These tortoises are cold-blooded, which means that their internal temperature is similar to the temperature of their environment. This is the reason why, during the winter season, they commonly stay in a place with a comfortable heat temperature. While in a warmer climate, they are normally seen eating, sleeping, and cooling off in a pond.

Habitat

Enclosure

Keeping the Aldabra tortoises outdoors is commonly the best approach to house them. Young tortoises up to the age of 2 years old may be sheltered indoors; however, once they get over that age, they will require the immense outdoors for them to wander about. For babies aging up to 1-year-old, tortoise tubs or a similar project may work well. Use crushed coconut or bark for the flooring of the enclosure.

Aldabra tortoises get bigger, hence as a rule that is smart to follow, the larger the outdoor enclosure, the better. One may choose to house his tortoise in a pen that is made from fancy cinder blocks. The wall is slightly beyond 2 feet tall. The track area measures 100 feet by 30 feet. Relying on the number of Aldabra tortoises that you are planning to house, the size of your track may differ.

The entry to the house must be sufficiently huge to let the tortoise conveniently get in and out, and the door is available to shut the tortoise inside during extremely cold nights or days. These tortoises enjoy mud holes, and if you can create one, or a hollow pond so they can soak in, they shall be very pleased. Different from many tortoises, Aldabra tortoises are great swimmers. They are naturally resilient and capable of holding their breath for 20 to 30 minutes.

Temperature

Secure a hotspot of around 90 degrees Fahrenheit at one edge of the enclosure using a circulating temperature of around 80 degrees. These tortoises do well at temperatures between 80 to 95 degrees. Supply your tortoise housing with heat emitters, heat lamps, and/or huge outdoor-use head pads to keep the right temperature even if the outside weather is cold.

Lighting

UV lights play an important role in stimulating certain vitamins. Aldabra tortoises shall be supplied with enough quantity of UV light by making use of 2 kinds of light. Mercury lamps and UVB fluorescent tubes can stimulate essential vitamins like vitamin D.

Based on the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (2006), the lightings for Aldabra tortoises should be less than 1 meter from the bodies of the tortoises so that the latter get the sufficient quantity of light and should be replaced every 6 months. You may use solar panels for an affordable supply of clean energy.

Humidity

Originating from the Seychelles islands, Aldabra tortoises can manage a huge variant humidity. These tortoises commonly love humidity in the area that ranges from 55 to 65 percent. During the rainy season, humidity may increase to 85 percent and stay that way for 2 to 3 months. The Aldabra tortoise shall grow with a glossy shell if the humidity is kept the right way. If humidity gets too low, the tortoise may experience dehydration and even grow with a bumpy shell.

Some owners of Aldabra tortoise apply a reptile fogging system to supply morning humidity, which sizzles over the day.

Diet

A lot of people take the pleasure of getting Aldabra tortoises as their pets because they are characterized as vegetarians, which implies no mice or insects to feed them.

Aldabra tortoises eat while they wander about on anything from weeds and backyard grasses, but they may also completely love prepared foods. Foliage greens rich in nutrition like dandelion greens, mustard green, spinach, and collard greens are all perfect examples.

Certain fruit is also a refreshment for them; however, it inhibits from acidic fruits because these can be hazardous to intestinal biotic balance. Aldabra tortoises specifically have a liking for melons. Hay also makes delightful food for them.  Bear in mind, they are eaters and are not inclined to very nutritious foods.

Native Habitat

Aldabra tortoises are found in Aldabra Island of Seychelles northeast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. Seemingly, they were brought to Reunion Islands and Mauritius. Aldabra Island is a coral reef surrounded by small beaches and rugged limestone and encompasses a huge mangrove-bordered lagoon. These tortoises stay in habitats like coastal dunes, mangrove swamp, and scrub. The biggest accumulation of tortoises is seen in the grasslands known as platins.

How to Care for Aldabra Tortoise

Aldabra tortoise would normally spend the morning and the early part of the evening eating. They love to stay in hollow water holes or shade once the heat of the sun gets high. They can be fast if they want to and will run as fast as it can when scared. However, if you have something special for them, such as their favorite food, they can quickly come to you.

To properly care for your Aldabra tortoise, you should keep your pet in an environment that is near to its natural territory. The environment must be grassy and should have distinct places where they can hide from the heat of the sun. Since these are tortoises, Aldabra tortoises do not require to be in the water. They do not even require to drink water for an extensive period – a lot of the water that they require is seen in their food.

The best method of housing your tortoise is to keep them outdoors. Small tortoises aging up to 2 years old may be kept indoors, but once they reach older, they should be granted the freedom to meander outdoors.

Aldabra tortoises will eventually get extremely big and survive a long time. They require plenty of space, unique setups of the habitat. They can make promising pets as long as you give your time and provide them sufficient space to devote their requirements. You are more likely to set up for long-term care ahead of time since they can outstay you.

Where to Get an Aldabra Tortoise?

Aldabra tortoises can be bought from reptile stores, reptile shows, or online. You will see it fulfilling if you have finally decided to get an Aldabra tortoise as your pet. However, make sure to buy a tortoise from a reputable seller. Choose the best quality, tortoises. Make sure to get healthy tortoises. You will know if a tortoise is healthy by checking its shell. A healthy tortoise has a smooth and firm shell. You may also check the skin of the tortoise to see if it is in good condition. A healthy tortoise has rugged and tough skin that covers the stocky limbs.

FAQs

Would it be better to get the Aldabra tortoise a companion to uplift its mood?

Aldabra tortoises can live on their own. They do not need a companion to be happy. If you want to provide your pet a company, make sure that you have enough space to cater to another tortoise.  Two males may fight. Male may persistently intimidate a female; hence, you may have to prepare yourself separating them if needed.

Do they drink?

Yes. You must have fresh water readily available for your tortoise. It would be ideal for bathing the tortoise every day to support it to drink.

Is it safe to use oils to keep the shell healthy?

Never apply anything on the shell of your tortoise. You must know that the shell is a living tissue. Thus, the use of oils or lotions can obstruct the pores and may draw dirt. If you notice the shell of your tortoise to be dirty, clean it with water and a soft toothbrush.

Why is it that my tortoise has not been eating?

Check the temperature. Lowered temperatures are the first thing to consider whenever your tortoise loses appetite. Or may check for other indications of health problems. Your tortoise may be suffering from an illness. If that is the case, bring it to an expert veterinarian.

Is Aldabra tortoise carnivore or herbivore?

Aldabra tortoise is an herbivore. This is one of the reasons why a lot of people love to get them as their pets. Their diet is commonly based on dead leaves, woody plants, and grasses. This tortoise can clutch their vegetation even if it is 3 feet from the ground through its long neck.

What is their negative characteristic?

This tortoise is not afraid of humans. This can be considered as their downfall because they are easily hunted by the settlers.

Do they eat meat?

Although they are characterized as herbivores, they can be occasionally cannibals. This does not happen frequently; cannibalism only happens when food is scarce.

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