Most people use the term "turtle" to describe tortoises, land-dwelling reptiles having changed little over thousands of years. Each species is interesting through its history, habitat and man's involvement. Captive-breeding and conservation of most species of tortoises has ensured their existence into the future.
Once home to fifteen subspecies, eleven still remain in the Galapagos. Some growing to over well over 800 lbs. and living 200 years make them a fascinating tortoise - and the largest in the world. Captive breeding programs have been at work since the 70s to keep them from extinction and increase the population. Ships took on tortoises for a source of meat on long journeys since the tortoises could go long periods with little food or water.
(Aldabrachelys gigantea)Native to the Seychelles region, the second largest tortoise is apt to grow over 500 lbs. and 3 feet in length. This tortoise has a better history and it is not facing extinction, such as the Galapagos tortoises.
(Geochelone sulcata)The third largest land tortoise is captively bred much more easily than the two larger species. Their care in captivity can be difficult, but not impossible. Up to three feet long and 100 - 200 lbs. This tortoise is also sometimes called the "spur-thigh" tortoise.
(Manouria emys phayrei)Not as commonly see for sale as the Burmese Brown tortoise, the black grows much larger. They can grow to 100 lbs. making their size a deterrent to keeping, but meeting their habitat and diet needs are easier compared to many others.
(Stigmochelys pardalis)The attractive shell pattern of the Leopard tortoise is often an attraction for keepers. Typically, these reach an adult size of 18 inches and 40 lbs. but may be larger due to many factors. Some areas are known to have larger size in their native habitat.
While not for everyone, those interested in tortoises have many options to consider, whether it be travel to see the Galapagos tortoises in their native land or be dedicated enough to learn how to properly keep a particular species.
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