|Geographical Range||Galapagos Islands, off the coast of Ecuador (South America)|
|Habitat||Volcanic islands, from semiarid lowlands to moist uplands|
|Scientific Name||Geochelone nigra|
The volcanic slopes of the Galapagos Islands were once covered by great numbers of this giant tortoise. However, between 1700 and 1900, the species was brought to near extinction. One factor was over-hunting for its meat; the second was introduction of non-native species (rats, pigs, dogs and cats) by settlers, which resulted in destruction of virtually all eggs and hatchlings. Today, this species is protected by international law.
Did You Know?
A Galapagos tortoise can weigh 600 pounds or more, making this the largest living tortoise in the world. Think about lugging around that huge shell! Fortunately, the shell bones of the Galapagos tortoise have a honeycomb structure, which reduces the weight of the shell so the animals can walk.