Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a tortoise and a turtle? Both animals are reptiles; both lay eggs and both have hard, bony shells. Tortoises live on land, in deserts, grasslands and forests. Turtles have webbed feet and live in rivers, lakes or even the ocean. They only leave the water to lay their eggs. A terrapin is a turtle that spends time both in and out of the water. It always lives close to water, though, and can be found in swamps and wetlands.
Turtles in fact come in all shapes and sizes and exist on land and in the sea. Whatever you call them, turtles are interesting animals. Their bony shell is covered in scales. It is attached to their backbone and can’t be removed. Some turtles can duck their head and limbs inside their shell for protection. Not all turtles can do this.
They have been around for millions of years and some turtles live longer than people (some up to 200 years of age). In Greece it is now a protected species and all exports are banned.
Turtles are omnivores. They eat fruit, plants, insects and other animals. Some turtles even eat poisonous jellyfish.
Sea turtles return to the same place every two or three years to lay their eggs. They migrate thousands of miles.
Turtles lay their soft eggs in the sand, dirt, or in grass. They dig holes and deposit the eggs. Some turtles lay only a few eggs. Some can lay over 1,000 at one time. Once the eggs are laid, the turtles move on, leaving the babies to fend for themselves.
Turtles can’t move very fast. People catch them for pets and other animals hunt them.
Turtles are ectothermic. They can’t control their own body temperature.