Introduced tortoises

 

There are two introduced tortoise species that are commonly found in Mauritius, although other small species from Madagascar are sometimes sold as pets. The two commonly found species are both maintained in captivity and managed in semi-wild populations.

 

 Aldabra giant tortoise Aldabrachelys gigantea

This giant tortoise was famously introduced to Mauritius from the Seychelles with the help of Charles Darwin and other notable naturalists in the late 1800s with the specific goal of protecting the species from potential extinction.

 

The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation maintain two semi-wild populations on Ile aux Aigrettes and Round Island where they are used to help restore natural ecosystems. These tortoises are also found at various nature parks and tourists attractions in Mauritius, including La Vanille Réserve des Mascareignes, where they are bred for a restoration programme in Rodrigues.

 

They can reach an average size of 110cm in length and have a medium brown to grey colouration. They are terrestrial and mostly feed on vegetation, fruits and occasionally dead animals.

 Radiated tortoise Astrochelys radiata

This tortoise was deliberately introduced to Mauritius in the 1800s from Madagascar or possibly from introduced populations on La Réunion. They are not often found in the wild, but there is now a managed population on Round Island and La Vanille Réserve des Mascareignes and many people also keep them as pets. The shell is medium sized with an average length of 35cm. The name radiata is given by the radiated yellow lines on its dark brown-black shell; the body itself is yellow except the head which has brown-black on it. They are terrestrial and mostly feed on vegetation and fruits.