5 Fun Facts You Never Knew About Tortoises

Did you know that a group of tortoises is called a creep? How about the fact that a tortoise can live for up to a year without any food or water? If all you know about tortoises is that they’re slow, land-dwelling turtles, get ready to have your mind blown. Here are 5 fun facts you never knew about tortoises.

Charles Darwin and Steve Irwin cared for the same tortoise

Charles Darwin is said to have captured and named Harriet in 1835 and sent her to England. Eventually, Harriet wound up at Australia Zoo, which was founded by Steve Irwin’s parents. Harriet died in 2006, the same year that the Crocodile Hunter was killed by a stingray.

Tortoises are the longest-living land animal

image source: Tom Hodgkinson via flickr

Galapagos tortoises in particular are said to live over 150 years. The longest living tortoise on record was presented to the Tongan royal family by the British explorer Captain Cook shortly after its birth in 1777. It died on May 19, 1965, at the age of 188. An Aldabra giant tortoise named Adwaita lived to be at least 150 years old and may have been as old as 250 when it died in 2006. While tortoises are the longest-living animals on land, they are not the longest-living animals on the planet. Bowhead whales can reach over 200 years and the ocean quahog clam can reach 500 years old.

They can weigh more than 400 pounds

image source: Schristia via flickr

It is not uncommon for giant tortoises to weigh 400 pounds or more, and it is possible for them to weigh twice that much. The largest tortoise on record was more than 6 feet long and weighed more than 880 pounds!

Tortoises don’t have any teeth

Image source: Dineshraj Goomany via flickr

Tortoises don’t have any teeth inside their mouth. Instead they have a horny beak to slice off and crunch the fruit and vegetation that they eat.

They hibernate in the winter

image source: Neil Turner via flickr

As the temperature starts to drop in the fall, tortoises stop eating and start digging burrows. During hibernation, the tortoise even stops breathing. When it awakes from hibernation in the spring, it does not start eating immediately but gradually gains its appetite and energy as the temperature warms up.

(H/T: Mental Floss, Pets 4 Homes, Wikipedia)