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December eggs: Galapagos giant tortoise eggs hatching!

December 4, 2017 by Christopher Klassen0

When do Galapagos giant tortoise eggs start hatching?

Galapagos Giant Tortoise Eggs are starting to hatch throughout this month of December (and will continue to hatch up until April), and it’s much to the delight of our guests that are lucky enough to spot them in the wild! If guests wish to raise their odds of spotting Galapagos giant tortoise eggs hatching, the Charles Darwin Research Centre (on Santa Cruz Island) and the Puerto Baquerizo Moreno Tortoise Breeding Centre (on San Cristobal Island) both offer visitors the chance to see numerous hatchlings in captivity. The arrival of the hot season in Galapagos brings with it a number of things that are full of life, read on in this blog to find out more about this member of our select group of BIG15 iconic species – Galapagos giant tortoise eggs hatching!

Giant Tortoises at the Charles Darwin Research Station
Giant Tortoises at the Charles Darwin Research Station

From Seed to Surface: Galapagos Giant Tortoise Eggs Hatching & Nesting

It is sometime between the months of June and December that Galapagos giant tortoises breed. Following this period of heightened copulation levels, the mother giant tortoise will begin making their way down into the lowlands as the hot season in Galapagos starts to roll in. Fertilized female giant tortoises will wander the lowlands briefly, typically around the beach areas, before find and deciding on a spot to dig a hole in.

Females can’t see the hole they’re digging because they rely on their strong back legs to do so, consequently making it a tedious job that requires several hours (sometimes even days) to finish creating a hole that ends up being approximately 30cm/1ft deep. Using a mixture of sand and urine, a plug of mud is created and used by the female to cover and seal the eggs (2-16 in total) in the hole. Following this, she goes away.

Giant Tortoises in Santa Cruz Island's highlands
Enjoy the beautiful sight of Galapagos’ most iconic animals!

Temperature is crucial when it comes to defining the sex of the babies, with warmer temperatures creating more females and cooler temperatures creating more males. Here’s a handy mnemonic: “cool dudes and hot chicks.” Once born, it will take a whopping 15 years before it can be seen which are females and which are males.

4-8 months is the approximate amount of time that it takes for the tortoises to develop within their hard-shelled eggs. Once they crack open, it can take these hatchlings up to a month to dig themselves out of the hole to reach the surface.

Tiny and light, the hatchlings weigh a mere 80g/2.8oz and are roughly 6cm/2.4in long. Later on, in life, their weight will increase tenfold and average around 225kg/500lb – a truly astounding gain of size and weight within a handful of years!
Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel has tours that offer one of the best ways to see the Galapagos Islands, which include the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. This offers our guests the chance to experience Galapagos giant tortoises hatching (if you’re lucky enough)! However, you can raise your odds by simply heading to the Charles Darwin Research Centre over in Puerto Ayora, which is only a stone’s throw away from the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel property!

Are you interested in exploring the ultimate secluded destination?
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