The Galapagos Tortoise are big guys with a big name. 'Galapagos' means 'saddle-back' in Spanish, which describes the tortoise’s big shell because the ridges on top of the shell make it look like a saddle. This turtle has the longest neck of all the species.
The Galapagos Tortoise has a vegetarian diet of grasses, fallen fruits and other vegetation. They can go for long periods of time without food or water. Life is pretty simple for them, but that wasn’t always so; they were hunted for meat and their shells before they were protected.
The Galapagos Tortoise has an unusual mating ritual where the male tortoise will bite the female on her legs until she finally gives in and pulls her legs into her shell allowing the male access for mating. A hoarse grunting noise attracts females and mating can last for several hours. The female travels up to several miles to lay her eggs, and will lay between two and sixteen eggs. They allow the babies to take off as soon as they are out of the eggs, never seeing them again unless by chance. The Galapagos Tortoise reaches sexual maturity around age forty. They are peaceable creatures and allow birds in their habitat to eat ticks and bugs off their neck by extending their necks.