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Tortoises: Testudinidae

Tortoises And People

People hunt these tortoises for food and traditional medicines and collect them for the pet trade.


Galápagos tortoises have an unusual relationship with small birds, known as Darwin's finches. Ticks and other small biting insects often hitch a ride on a tortoise's skin, but the tortoise frequently cannot reach them to remove them. The birds feed on these same organisms. Darwin's finches and Galápagos tortoises seem to have struck a deal. When the finches fly in, the tortoises stand up as tall as they can and stretch out their necks, so the birds can pick off the insects and mites from every nook and cranny on their skin. Both the birds and the tortoises benefit: The bird gets an easy meal, and the tortoise gets some needed relief.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceDinosaurs, Snakes, and Other ReptilesTortoises: Testudinidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Tortoises And People, Conservation Status, GalÁpagos Tortoise (geochelone Nigra): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET