A zaratan's shell could easily measure hundreds of feet in diameter.
Under most circumstances a zaratan woken from its slumber would immediately withdraw into its giant shell just like a regular turtle. They would remain withdrawn for up to a decade.
If wounded or pestered enough, a zaratan would attack with all of its awesome fury.
Due to their slow metabolism, these creatures had incredibly long lives, often measured by millenia. It was said that the zaratani floated in the seas before the genies first came to Zakhara.
A zaratan spent nearly all of its time sleeping. They slept with their mouths open and reflexively swallowed any man-sized creatures (or smaller) that ventured too close.
Zaratani that happened to bump into each other while floating around in slumber would mate if they were of the opposite sex. A single mating session could last up to one year.
Zaratani communicated by a method similar to that used by whales. A single conversation between two zaratan could last decades. Telepathy was used on rare occasions.
A zaratan would sleep for longer periods of time as it aged. They were often confused with small islands because of the vegetation and sediment that would settle on their shells.
Older zaratani were comfortable supporting small villages so long as the inhabitants did not disturb their slumber. A few corsairs even used them as hidden bases. The most famous of these was Jayani al-Jasir.
Many inhabitants of zaratan islands were incredibly superstitious. They believed that their island was a deity whose wrath would be terrible if disturbed. Large quantities of fish, and even visitors, were sacrificed to please the zaratan.