The tortoise is part of the reptile family. Apart from its reputation as being extremely slow, the tortoise is immediately recognisable thanks to its shell! But what purpose does it serve? The tortoises shell offers excellent protection against predators. Its like a suit of armour, very hard and strong, comprised of a bottom shell (plastron) and a domed back shell (carapace) on land tortoises. Made with plates and bones, this shell also enables the tortoise to blend in with its surroundings and to control its temperature. The land tortoise mainly eats plants and insects and spends most of its time looking for food. All tortoises are oviparous, which means that they lay eggs. These are laid once a year and the eggs are carefully buried until hatching time. Once they come out of their eggshell, the young tortoises are very independent and can fend for themselves. Land tortoises live on average for around 50 years. Nevertheless, some giant tortoises can live much longer, and in some cases for more than 200 years!