Researchers document the hunting prowess of tortoise for the first time

Fareeha Arshad
Photo byPhoto by Luca Ambrosi on Unsplash

Researchers have captured groundbreaking footage of a giant tortoise engaging in slow and deliberate hunting behaviour. The encounter, documented on Frégate Island in Seychelles, reveals a female giant tortoise pursuing a flightless lesser noddy tern chick. This observation marks the first documented evidence of a tortoise intentionally attacking and consuming another animal. The hunt lasted seven minutes, during which the tortoise even pursued the chick along the top of a log. The video, recorded by Anna Zora, shows the tortoise approaching the bird with purposeful intent, a behaviour distinctly different from its typical slow demeanour.

While giant tortoises like the Aldabra giant tortoise are primarily herbivorous, there have been anecdotal reports of tortoises inadvertently crushing crabs or consuming birds and carrion. However, previous studies lacked concrete evidence of intentional hunting. The newfound footage finally settles the debate by showcasing the deliberate and calculated attack of a tortoise. This discovery challenges the perception that tortoises are solely passive grazers.

The incident raises questions about the frequency of such hunting behaviours among tortoises. Researchers suggest that this behaviour may be more common than previously thought, particularly among the tortoise population of Frégate Island. The tortoise's direct approach to the chick on the log indicates prior experience capturing chicks in similar situations. This suggests that such interactions are not infrequent for this individual tortoise and may also be adopted by several others.

The footage captivates viewers, demonstrating a side of never-before-seen tortoises, whose seemingly slow and steady movements can conceal an incredible hunting prowess.

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I am a scientist by profession and a historian by passion. I mostly write about history and science.

Texas State

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