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Giant tortoises size comparison

Discussion in 'Galapagos and Chaco tortoises' started by JTExotics, Feb 4, 2019.

  1. JTExotics

    JTExotics New Member

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    Galapagos tortoise species are often lumped together in conversation when they really shouldn’t be. The truth is that they are extremely diverse in size, shape, and their habitat requirements . However, only about half of the total species are represented in captivity, with none of the true saddleback species represented at all.

    They vary a lot in size, shape, and even color (to some extent), with the saddleback species being significantly smaller and more “colorful.” The smallest species don’t reach much more than 160 pounds. They are rivaled or beaten in size by Sudanese sulcatas, the biggest yellow foots, and even the largest Ethiopian leopard tortoises. The largest species from the Galapagos, however, are only rivaled in size by the biggest Aldabra tortoises. The record size (of any tortoise) came from a captive Western Santa Cruz giant tortoise (named “Goliath”) who to grow until his death in 2002 (Which was possibly caused by the stress of being moved to a new enclosure, so he could have grown even larger) when he weighed 920 pounds!
    Here are some species with pictures and size breakdown:

    Ethiopian leopard tortoise, Stigmochelys pardalis babcocki:
    Record size: 158 pounds, about 30” SCL
    Adult males typically reach 24-28” SCL and weigh close to or more than 100 pounds

    56B9582C-0EC5-40A7-B395-91A4EDA4EEB0-421-000000241E917208.jpg

    722F0351-3D54-49D7-B980-4C5884EEFEA8-421-0000002521EB7A63.jpg



    Duncan Island (Galapagos) Giant tortoise, Chelonoidis duncanensis:
    Adult males typically reach about 24-30 inches SCL and weigh no more than 170 pounds (possibly then smallest species from the Galapagos)

    4DB4886A-23D9-4591-9FBB-1C570316DE6B-421-00000025EA8CE4F6.jpg

    Above: “Onan and the author (Fred Caporaso)
    (Photo by K. Switak)”- https://tortoise.org/archives/pinzon.html

    048FB7A5-3666-47D9-AFBD-34199B2303DE-421-000000271164E929.jpg

    Above: Old male Duncan Island tortoise, “Onan”, eating an Opuntia cactus pad
    Source: https://www.mindenpictures.com/search?s=pinzon+island+tortoise

    8853810A-A4CA-421D-9E3A-AED61AAB19AC-421-00000026E0097E2B.jpg

    Above: Old male Duncan Island tortoise, “Onan”.

    4B09C899-AC1A-421F-AD37-3FF022A9C5F0-421-00000026F2E0C645.jpg

    Above: Repatriated Pínzon (Duncan) island tortoises being returned to the wild




    Española Island (Galapagos) tortoise, Chelonoidis hoodensis:
    Adult males typically 28-35” SCL and weigh up to 180+- pounds
    (Females are much smaller than males, like all Galapagos tortoises)

    AFFF7FEE-4CD7-4D7A-A3CC-F9AFE710151C-421-0000002C2DACF278.jpg

    Above: Two adult males in a dispute on Española Island, Galapagos

    79D25039-B3AA-42C5-8098-316216B9EB7A-421-0000002AAFADC4CB.jpg

    Above: Adult Male, Charles Darwin research station, Galapagos, Ecuador.
    Source: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.ny...americas/galapagos-islands-tortoises.amp.html

    738157EE-4677-48EF-95FE-91634FB466A2-421-0000002AC66DB624.jpg

    Above: Adult females, Charles Darwin research station, Galapagos, Ecuador.
    Source: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.ny...americas/galapagos-islands-tortoises.amp.html




    Yellow-Footed Tortoise, Chelonoidis denticulata:
    Size: 15-37” SCL
    Weight: 20-200 pounds

    A864EC6D-779D-4E93-B715-2679D7CB25EE-421-0000002E28C10E69.jpg

    Above: Russ Gurley with a giant at the Saint Louis Zoo, Missouri
    Source: http://thereptilereport.com/personalities-russ-gurley/



    Above: Austin Stevens helping a Giant yellow foot tortoise cross a river in the Amazon.

    0A0A6B6D-4339-4E7D-AF78-CA295624EC1B-421-0000002F35A861A6.jpg

    Above: The world record yellow foot tortoise (bottom right, 37” SCL, 200 pounds), who lives at the Saint Louis Zoo with a very large male (top right, 32” SCL, 154 pounds).



    Western Santa Cruz Giant Tortoise, Chelonoidis porteri:
    Size: 40-53” SCL
    Average Weight (males): 500–600 pounds
    Record weight: 920 pounds

    2B0DD734-7030-4982-8A83-7DACF2DBE0BF-421-000000329AB82335.jpg

    Above: Adult male, “Goliath”

    B586E0BA-7AB7-47D4-860D-78CE904600E4-421-00000032C63A3C08.jpg

    Above: Wild adult male, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos.

    3DFB840D-46BC-4A98-971E-0860C805E538-421-00000032DE94D316.jpg

    Above: Adult male


    Side note: The Burmese black mountain tortoise is not the 4th largest tortoise in the world like many people say, yellow foots and leopards can get much larger.

    I do have a question:
    Can anyone shine some light on what the laws are for Galapagos tortoises and why some species aren’t represented in captivity at all? I know that that they were imported as recently as the late 1990s, but I don’t know if the laws have changed. Is it still legal for certain people (such as zoos) to import them?
  2. JTExotics

    JTExotics New Member

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  3. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

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    In my searches before settling on the type of tortoise I wanted to get, the leopard was listed as the fourth largest. The Gallop, the Aldabra, the Sulcata and then the Leopard. I never came across a mention of the mountain or the yellow foot being the fourth largest. So much misinformed information out there.
    I never came across anything about the smaller gallop you talk about here either. As far back as I can remember knowing anything about tortoises the Gallop was always the biggest. Interesting and confusing the different info depending on what links one comes across.
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  4. JTExotics

    JTExotics New Member

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    A lot of this information is just hard to find, to further complicate things, there is a lot of biased information out their, you will hear many claims, but the truth is more complicated than just Galapagos tortoise, Aldabra, and sulcata. There are at least 10 extant, diverse species of Galapagos tortoise, 3 Aldabra subspecies, Giant Sudanese sulcatas (that can reach over 300 pounds—far larger than the Española and Duncan island tortoise), Giant yellow foot tortoises, 2 types of giant leopard tortoises (South African and the even bigger Ethiopian variety), and then Burmese black mountain tortoises come onto the table. Most people think that the Galapagos tortoise species aren’t very different from each other because only a few, similar domed species are represented in captivity, leading to the false idea that they only difference between them is shell shape. But the truth is that there is a massive size difference between them, with some species that develop a lot of yellowish coloration on their face and neck.

    Sudan sulcatas:

    IMG_1450.jpg

    IMG_1449.jpg

    Above: This is a very large sulcata, I estimate it to measure at least 45” SCL and to weigh at least 325 pounds. From: https://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/biggest-sulcatas-ive-ever-seen.105846/


    IMG_1451.jpg

    IMG_1452.jpg

    IMG_1453.jpg

    Above: These tortoises all weigh at least 250 pounds, much larger than most sulcatas.
    Source: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/sulcata-250-lb-male-specimens.36412/
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  5. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

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    After joining the forum, I have heard/read about some of the tortoises you mention. The Ethiopian leopard, the larger sulcatas and I think I seen one pic of a very large YF. Heard of the saddleback aldabra but not the different ranges of size and differences in the Gallop or the Mountains.
    Quite interesting not only what you have shared with us in this thread but the amount of info that can be found now compared to when I was searching.
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  6. Sesel

    Sesel Well-Known Member

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    Interesting~

    Goliath doesn't seem that big. Maybe it's the angle of the photo.

    Below is the biggest Aldabra I've ever seen, was still a kid back then. Sadly, this tortoise has since passed away.

    Screenshot_2019-02-05-20-24-30.png
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  7. JTExotics

    JTExotics New Member

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    Wow! That Aldabra is huge. Do have any idea on its weight?
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  8. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

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    Sure seems Aldabraman's are bigger. Have you seen his?
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  9. ALDABRAMAN

    ALDABRAMAN KEEPER AT HEART 5 Year Member

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    Last edited: Feb 5, 2019
  10. JTExotics

    JTExotics New Member

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    Wow! Those sure are some big Aldabras. It’s always nice to see some with smooth shells.
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  11. Sesel

    Sesel Well-Known Member

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    Unfortunately, no. Was surely bigger than Esmeralda, which is said to be over 650 pounds (i personally doubt it, but you never know.)

    Here is another huge one, similar in size to @ALDABRAMAN 's males:

    20180429_143108.jpg
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  12. ALDABRAMAN

    ALDABRAMAN KEEPER AT HEART 5 Year Member

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    ~ One thing i have found to be very unreliable and extremely inaccurate are verbal weights and sizes. Countless times have i been told a tortoise is so biog or weighs so much and it is not remotely even close to the actual size or weight. People guess and truly have no clue of exact sizes or weights. Using an actual scale is the only way to get them accurately.

    ~ We use a small crane scale for the males and a large game scale for the females.

    ~ I have videos of the annual weightings, i will post a few, quite the ordeal (lol)!

    IMG_0008.JPG

    10399665_206847166343411_5145228873751132442_n.jpg
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2019
  13. Olddog

    Olddog Well-Known Member

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    I saw and photographed Goliath on a regular basis. His weight was verified for the Guinness Book of World records. He may actually have been somewhat larger than his recorded weight when he expired.

    http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/news/60at60/2015/8/2002-largest-tortoise-392870
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  14. ALDABRAMAN

    ALDABRAMAN KEEPER AT HEART 5 Year Member

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    ~ We were good friends with Life Fellowship also, he was truly massive!
  15. ALDABRAMAN

    ALDABRAMAN KEEPER AT HEART 5 Year Member

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    IMG_4257.jpg
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  16. Ray--Opo

    Ray--Opo Well-Known Member Platinum Supporter

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    Thank you for the read.Very interesting.
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  17. Sesel

    Sesel Well-Known Member

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    Do you mind sharing some more photos please? :)
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