Animal Information

Why Are Tortoises So Strong And Live So Long

It seems no matter how you build your tortoise’s yard things will happen. These tortoises resemble walking wrecking balls. They are very curious. Today we noticed Jamie aka J’Normous the Tortoise walking in the cow field. We are lucky to have each section and we are double fenced. It just tells you just how hard it is to keep these large tortoises properly Especially when they act naughty!

How Large Do Tortoises Grow?

Tortoises are known to reach their maximum size by about the age of 30. The largest tortoise on record is Goliath. This reptile resided at Seffner’s Life Fellowship Bird Sanctuary as a hatchling in 1960.

When the reptile passed away in Florida in November 2002, he was 4 ft 5 in long, 3 ft 4 in wide and 2 ft 3 in high, and he weighed in at 919 lb. Unsurprisingly, Goliath was the biggest tortoise ever weighed, but then how many people have successfully maneuvered a slow-moving, 900+ pound creature on to a set of giant scales?

How Long Do Tortoises Live?

At 186 years old, Jonathan, who resides on the tiny Atlantic island of St. Helena. Jonathan (hatched c. 1832) is a Seychelles giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys giganteahololissa).

A 255-year-old giant tortoise named Adwaitya died at the Calcutta Zoo in 2006.

Why Do They Live Long?

Part of the reason why these animals can live so long is that they have such a slow metabolism.

As a general rule, animals with a high metabolic rate die early, and those that burn energy more slowly plod on for decades. The more active the animal, the higher its metabolic rate, as it has to burn energy to maintain its activity.

Animal Evolution

It can’t be concluded that a tortoise lives to 250 because it has a shell or because it’s big. Same as we can not say that the tortoise evolved a shell or its large size because it has such a long life.

Other types of animal, especially those with bigger brains have developed long life spans for different reasons entirely. In fact, the more social the animal, the longer it lives.

A group of tortoises is called a creep. But you won’t see a creep very often. Tortoises are solitary roamers. Some mother tortoises are protective of their nests, but they don’t care for their young after they hatch.

What Makes Tortoises So Strong?

A Tortoises shell is actually part of its skeleton. It’s made up of over 50 bones which include the turtle’s rib cage and spine.

Although they are massive animals, their shells are not solid. Instead, they are made up of honeycomb structures that enclose small air chambers. This makes it possible for the tortoise to carry the weight of the shell without much difficulty.

The muscular system in tortoises is quite different from that of most other vertebrates. Muscles which are usually used to flex and twist in the backbone in nearly all animals are almost completely obsolete in tortoises due to their spine being rigid.

However, they have enormously well-developed muscles in their flexible necks, allowing them to retract into their shells.

They also have well-developed leg and tail muscles and possess considerably powerful muscles in their lower mandibles.

Can You Tell How Old A Tortoise Is?

The whole shell of the tortoise is made up of numerous small bones which are covered by separate plates of keratin called scutes. As a tortoise grows, extra layers of keratin are added underneath the existing layer, causing “growth rings”.

Contrary to popular belief, a tortoise cannot be accurately aged by counting these rings. However they can tell us approximately how many spurts of growth the tortoise has had, thus we could also gauge what type of seasonal changes the tortoise has in its natural environment. Abundant vegetation means more food, which relates to more growth. Sparse vegetation due to extreme climatic conditions would mean little food, leading to little or no keratin growth.

Did You Know?

    • While visiting the Galapagos in 1835, British naturalist Charles Darwin observed local plants and animals. He became fascinated by species that seemed related to ones found on the mainland while also having many physical variations unique to different islands. This idea that a species could change over time eventually led to Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection.
    • Charles Darwin and Steve Irwin owned the same tortoise. Darwin is said to have collected and named Harriet back in 1835. She was sent to England and eventually wound up at Australia Zoo, founded by Steve Irwin’s parents. She finally passed on in 2006, the same year as the Crocodile Hunter’s fatal encounter with a stingray.
    • Sadly, many species of turtle are endangered! 129 of approximately 300 species of turtle and tortoise on Earth today are either vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered, according to the IUCN. Threats include loss of habitat, poaching, and the illegal pet trade.

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Crazy Critters Inc. is a Private Non-Profit, 501(c)3, Exotic Animal Rescue and Sanctuary. Our Wildlife Facility is located in Eustis, Florida. We provide permanent homes to over 200 animals including lizards, turtles, skinks, geckos, birds, and assorted wildlife. Crazy Critters Inc. was established to provide non-domestic, non-releasable animals with a safe and permanent home.

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