ENCLOSURE & EXERCISE
The decision to care for an Aldabra is as giant as the tortoise itself and should be made with careful consideration. This species can eat you out of house and home and it won't be long before the entire garden gets included as well.
The size of the enclosure is very important to ensure the well-being of your tortoise(s). They tend to move around a lot so you will need to ensure the enclosure is big enough, especially if you have more than one animal in captivity. An ideal enclosure for a mature animal will be four times the size of the animal. The enclosure should ideally have an area for bathing such as a pool of mud, an area for drinking water, an area for feeding and an area that provides protection from the sun. The floor of the enclosure should not be concretized but rather left with natural grasses or soil. Tortoises need exercise. Their enclosure should be big enough to let them walk around freely.
IDEAL TEMPS: These islanders thrive best in temps averaging 75 - 85 F. They also come from a humid region, therefore it is recommended that you maintain these conditions. Use supplemental heating if you live in a colder area. Aldabras are highly adaptable and will tolerate lower temperatures than what they are used to, however, they will be far happier with the warmer temperatures that replicate their tropical homeland.
FOOD & WATER
EATING: Tortoises enjoy a wide variety of leaves, grasses, vegetables and fruits. Fresh grass is important for tortoise health as it provides fibre to the diet and cleanses the intestines. A calcium supplement, (in the form of dicalcium phosphate), will prevent weak muscles and carapace deterioration. Tortoises should always have food available in their pen. If you give a tortoise anything besides leaves and grasses, be sure that you present the food on a clean elevated surface that you wash off between meals. Make sure the food does not come in contact with the bare earth. When tortoises accidentally consume sand and mud, they can suffer from an impacted gut and get very sick.
DRINKING: Tortoises need a plentiful supply of clean water for drinking. Supply of clean drinking water should be done every two days.
BATHING: Tortoises like to soak in pools of water; some even fall sleep with their heads under water! They also like to wallow in pools of mud.
DID YOU KNOW ...
Did you know that Aldabra tortoises drink through their noses!? Living in the dry conditions of Aldabra atoll, giant tortoises have adapted by drinking through their nose to reach water in shallow pools that would be inaccessible by mouth.
Giant tortoises are slow growing and should not be fed on diets that speed up their growth unnaturally. A slow growth also produces a well-formed carapace, with the most magic of ingredients being plenty of water, a well-balanced diet and sunshine.
When frightened, the tortoise will pull its head and limbs into its shell and making a hissing sound. This is not a defensive measure but rather the sound of air being pushed out of its lungs to make space for its head and limbs.
Giant tortoises do not like people riding them. Never scrape the shell of the tortoise between the scutes. This is very painful for the tortoise, and makes it more prone to diseases.
The gentle giants are toothless and have beaks like birds, as well as elephantine feet to support their enormous weight.
Mostly active in the early to mid-morning and late afternoon, they spend those periods searching for food and seem to prefer open grasslands. During the heat of the day, they rest in the shade or soak in water pools to stay cool.
Male tortoises have a concave plastron to facilitate mating. Aldabras breed between February and May. From around April, females will start to lay anywhere from 8 - 25 eggs, and are capable of laying up to 3 clutches a year. They lay their eggs in the ground, digging the nest with their rear legs. Usually only about 50% of the eggs are fertile. After incubating for approx. 150 days, the hatchlings emerge between October and December.
Aldabra tortoises are not only smart, personable, and entertaining, they are also social creatures and fare better when they live with others of their own kind. If you plan on getting an Aldabra, it would be a good idea to try and add another for company in the future.
Aldabras make for an incredible and unique heirloom pet, one that can be a part of your family for generations to come. Since they're likely to outlive you, it would be wise to make arrangements for their long-term love and care.