Geochelone nigra  (Testudinidae)


MATING: Galápagos Tortoises mate by internal fertilization from December to May with the females laying eggs from June through November in the arid zone at lower elevations.

INCUBATION: The eggs are collected by Park rangers and incubated at breeding centers in the Galápagos (Isabela and Santa Cruz) Islands.

They are put in the same position in which they were found so as not to harm the embryo. Incubation takes 90-120 days with temps. less than 83〫F  producing males and higher producing females.

NEWBORNS:  Newborns are kept in terrariums for the first two years of their life to protect them from predators such as rats and cats.

ADAPTATION PENS:  The young turtles aged 2-6 years old are kept in a protective area with food and water similar to the wild where they will be released.  When they reach 20-25 cm long they are released into the wild.  They are identified while in captivity by color-coated paint to show their Islands of origin individual ID number.

SEX: Until they are 12-20 years sex cannot be visually differentiated.  The adult males have a much longer tail and are usually larger than the females.

ADULTS: Grow to up to 600 pounds (270kg) and females to about 110 pounds (50kg). Shells average just over a yard in length.  Isabella has about 6000 tortoises the most of any Island.  Adults can live to 170 years in captivity.