The Galapagos Horned Turtle, or the Gapyai as the South American natives called it, is a giant, 75 ton turtle that lives in the depths of the water surrounding the Galapagos Islands, out of sight from the Muggles. It has existed since the Cretaceous Period and survived the extinction of the dinosaurs, and most evolved down into what Muggles call the Galapagos Tortoise, which they think is the largest tortoise on Earth. The Galapagos Horned Turtle is a very peaceful animal and feeds on sharks, whales and many other sea dwelling creatures, but also gets nutrients from plant life. It's high rating is due to the high death count during mating season of Muggles and Wizards alike who get to close to the nesting grounds of the Galapagos Horned Turtle, and are usually killed as the mother protects her nest. Because of the little chance of fertility in a female Galapagos turtle past 150 and the deadly fights males have to establish superiority, the species is slowly dying.
The Galapagos Turtle is the largest land creature on the planet and the heaviest. A full grown adult will weigh up to 75 to 100 tons. They have thick scaly skin and a hard, almost unbreakable shell that leaves magic useless against it. Along it's head is a bony horn that sticks upwards and is used for dueling with other Galapagos Turtles or running down threats. It has large brown eyes on that are it's only weak spot and a good place to attack to bring it down. It's jaw can open wide which allows it to just scoop up small prey into it's mouth, but also has small pointy teeth (by it's standards. Compare to us it's the size of our forearm, that are used to attack bigger prey like a Whale and to grind up plant food. It's scales and shell are very valuable and many poachers hunt them for it. It is no easy task though to bring down a Galapagos Horned Turtle, and many poachers have died trying to do that. The shell of the Galapagos Turtle can appear to be an island or a giant rock when it's legs, tail and head are inside the shell or under the water. Vegetation and animal life also take up home on the back of a Galapagos when it is not under the water. The Galapagos Horned Turtle can live up to hundreds of years, the latest in recording being 876. They sense when they are about to die and climb onto land where they lay down and let nature take course.
The Galapagos Horned Turtle spends most of it's life in the depths of the ocean away from sight, but when it does resurface it is at the Galapagos Islands. This is where their nesting grounds are and where they come to die. There has only been one recorded incident when an extremely old Galapagos Turtle (who had been run off by the other turtles because of him trampling eggs) came to the island of Hawaii and laid down on the beach to die.
Plant and fish are it's main courses. The Galapagos Horned Turtle is an Omnivore, meaning it ate both meat and plant. It mainly lives on large sea creature like whales and sharks but also was able to eat whole schools of fish. If they were more numerous in number they could be responsible for wiping out whole species. They eat plants on land when they are laying eggs to sustain themselves from starving. The giant turtle digests food quickly so must eat regularly.
The mating process is long and difficult. There are more recorded male Galapagos Turtle in the waters then females, which causes fights among them to prove who may mate with a female. At times one female may have five or more suitors at once which is overwhelming. Once she chooses a male he does his business and leaves the female, who will go to the Galapagos Islands and lay up to 30 or more eggs the size of cars if she becomes pregnant. It take six months for the eggs to hatch, but because the mother cannot always protect her eggs from small predators most will die. Birds and lizards are so small the mother can only watch as they attack the eggs, and not act in fear of breaking the eggs.
Ministry of Magic Involvement
This giant specimen provides many resources for the Wizarding World. Scales, chipped pieces of it's shell and broken eggs shells are the most valuable and are used in many potions. Even the dung of the creature is used in a famous cleaning solution.