Reptiles

Turtle Love

I took this video recently when my family and I visited a local zoo, and let’s just say love was in the air! Even though the act of copulation is a natural process of any animal’s life cycle, it’s still impossible not to giggle when encountering the ritual. There was plenty of love to go around as two couples were getting busy, while an interested ostrich oversaw the entire session.

This mating process was quite the spectacle. The males pursue the females with a loud bellowing sound similar to a bull, and once they are in position copulation lasts around 10-15 minutes, not bad eh? The female will then lay up to 25 rubbery eggs into a dry shallow nest on the ground. In the wild these eggs are very vulnerable and often eaten by predators.

There are actually several species of giant tortoises; these are Aldabra Atoll giant tortoises. I have to say that these tortoises are really quite amazing. They live for an extremely long time usually between 80-120 years old; however, it has been documented that some have lived to an incredible age of 250! As the name giant suggests, they really do get very large; they can weigh up to 600 pounds and grow to over 4 feet long!

You’ll generally find these tortoises living in grasslands and swamps. Although they are slow moving, their thick short legs and round feet help them negotiate sandy and wet terrain. These environments also help them with dense low-lying vegetation, and remarkably these tortoises are capable of traveling great distances when food is scarce. They have also adapted to the environment by being able to drink water through the nostrils, so I guess they like getting water up their nose!

All in all, I think you really have to respect these ancient creatures, and not just for the noisy and extended copulation time. They are resilient, well adapted and simply put beautiful giants.

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Wendy Aburto

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