One of the world’s largest land tortoises, Aldabra giant tortoises can reach sizes of up to 550 pounds and ages of up to 150 years old. Its shell, or carapace, is a black, brown or tan color with a high, domed shape, averaging 48″ in length. It has stocky, heavily scaled legs to support its heavy body. The neck of the this tortoise is very long, even for its great size, which helps the animal to exploit tree branches up to a meter from the ground as a food source.
Sidebar – perhaps of interest to Dr. Seuss book fans: Why he wrote “Yertle the Turtle” (I believe you’ll be as surprised as I when I researched!) Four Aldabra giant tortoises reside at the Greensboro Science Center. Tortoises are cold-blooded (their internal temperature is the same temperature as their surroundings). Because of this, the tortoises spend colder days inside their blockhouse at the center, which is heated to a comfortable 80 degrees. During warmer weather, they’re typically sleeping, eating and/or cooling off in their pond. They enjoy leafy greens, squash, tomatoes, watermelons, pumpkins, and cantaloupes.