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As Fast as a Tortoise

A close-up of a Galapagos tortoise.

At Iguanaland in Punta Gorda, FL. I met a very friendly Aldabra tortoise named Aly. Aly was enjoying a graze of the grass when I strolled by. She looked up, saw me, and rushed over. Okay, ‘rushed’ is an exaggeration. Even though she was moving towards me with purpose, it was more of an amble. Aldabra tortoises are giant, the second largest of the tortoises after Galapagos tortoises. Watching Aly coming toward me made me wonder about the running speed of tortoises. 

Aly the tortoise running towards Elaine.

How fast are tortoises?

I remember a male tortoise chasing a female around their enclosure at the Darwin Research. It was a high-speed chase! I also remember my Sulcata tortoise running after a bobcat in my yard at a fairly fast pace.

Having seen tortoises run, I was surprised that according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the fastest speed was only 0.63 miles per hour. Most references give 0.5 mph as the running speed for the giant tortoises.

I thought the male Galapagos tortoise chasing the female moved much faster than 0.5 mph. Harassing the female is how Galapagos tortoises woo their mates. There’s nothing like a good chase to get the blood pumping!

In the scheme of things, tortoises are considered slow. The walking speed is reported to be 0.18 mph. I have fourteen tortoises free-roaming in my house. They may not be fast, but they certainly walk with purpose, just like Aly coming to greet me.

A close-up of Aly the tortoise's head.

A video of Aly rushing over to me will soon be available on my YouTube Channel.

And if you are interested in learning more about tortoises, take a look at my latest book! Vampire…Tortoise?! is out now.

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