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Tortoise Mating

The tortoises, when purposely moving towards any point, travel by
night and day and arrive at their journey's end much sooner than
would be expected. The inhabitants, from observing marked
individuals, consider that they travel a distance of about eight
miles in two or three days. One large tortoise, which I watched,
walked at the rate of sixty yards in ten minutes, that is 360 yards
in the hour, or four miles a day,--allowing a little time for it to
eat on the road. During the breeding season, when the male and
female are together, the male utters a hoarse roar or bellowing,
which, it is said, can be heard at the distance of more than a
hundred yards. The female never uses her voice, and the male only
at these times; so that when the people hear this noise, they know
that the two are together. They were at this time (October) laying
their eggs. The female, where the soil is sandy, deposits them
together, and covers them up with sand; but where the ground is
rocky she drops them indiscriminately in any hole: Mr. Bynoe found
seven placed in a fissure. The egg is white and spherical; one
which I measured was seven inches and three-eighths in
circumference, and therefore larger than a hen's egg. The young
tortoises, as soon as they are hatched, fall a prey in great
numbers to the carrion-feeding buzzard. The old ones seem generally
to die from accidents, as from falling down precipices: at least,
several of the inhabitants told me that they never found one dead
without some evident cause.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 9, 1835 12:00 AM.

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