Watch: Giant tortoise hunts a baby bird

Giant tortoises aren’t known for their speed. They’re not known for being predators, either. But a video captured in 2020 shows a female Seychelles giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea) stalking, killing and eating a juvenile noddy tern (Anous tenuirostris) that fell from its nest. Researchers describe the event in Current Biology

“This was totally unexpected,” Justin Gerlach told Science News. A biologist at the University of Cambridge, Gerlach was an author on the paper discussing the footage captured by co-author Anna Zora, the conservation and sustainability manager of Frégate Island Sanctuary.

Tortoises are herbivores, but they have been known to occasionally eat birds they step on, Gerlach says. But those seemed to be accidents. He plans to study if this kind of hunting behavior is more common than anybody knew.

Watch a video of the unusual event below.

Header Image: A Seychelles giant tortoise stalks a juvenile noddy tern before killing and eating it, a previously unknown behavior for the herbivore. Credit: Anna Zora