How long do they live? That’s a good question. Reports range from 150 years old to over 200 years old for some tortoises [1]. Currently, one Aldabra tortoise named Esmeralda is thriving on Bird Island, Seychelles at the ripe age of 176 years old [2].

Where are they found at? The Aldabra Atoll, Seychelles off the coast of Africa. See Figure 1.

Figure 1. Aldabra Islands, Seychelles.

What do they eat? They are herbivores, so they eat plants. I can relate, except I eat plants and drink fermented plants.

What do they look like? They look quite a bit like the Galapagos tortoise and they reach up to 550 pounds. See Figures 2 and 3.

Figure 2. Aldabra tortoise
Figure 3. Too much adorable for one picture.

How do scientists know how old they are? They must know the date that the tortoise hatched [2].

How do they reproduce? The Aldabra tortoise reaches sexual maturity between 20 to 30 years old. Fertilization is internal and eggs are buried in the sand where they will remain until they hatch about 8 months later depending on the temperature of the environment [3].

So what are we lacking? A good start would be definitive age data. Some telomere research would be interesting and genome information would be good too. There’s no information regarding the genome of Geochelone gigantea uploaded to NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information), but there is mitochondrial genome information on the NCBI that you can find here. The story of the Aldabra tortoise has similar plot holes as the Galapagos tortoise story. Both are lacking reproductive senescence data and a good way to estimate their age.

Conservation status: Vulnerable [4]. Humans have not been kind to this tortoise either.

Please contact me if you any information about how these adorable giants avoid typical aging. Also, any information their genome would be greatly appreciated.

  1. Castanet, J. “Age estimation and longevity in reptiles.” Gerontology 40.2-4 (1994): 174-192.
  2. Seychelles Ministry of Tourism and Culture. The Aldabra Giant Tortoise. Accessed 9/11/2016.
  3.  A-Z Animals. Aldabra Giant Tortoise. Accessed 9/11/2016.
  4. IUCN Red List. Aldabra Tortoise. Acceseed 9/11/2016.