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  • Turtles: Order Testudines

    • Includes: Tortoises, terrapins, sea turtles

    • Number of Species: over 313

    • Range: Turtles are located in cool-temperate to tropical habitats across world. A high diversity of these are found in Southeastern United State and Southeastern Asia

    • Habitat: marine, freshwater, and terrestrial

    • Characteristics

      • Turtles have protective shells made of bone and keratin or leathery skin. The top part of the shell is called the carapace and the bottom part is called the plastron.

      • The vertebrae and ribs of turtles are fused to their shells. This prevents them from leaving their shells behind as seen in many cartoons.

      • Turtles lack teeth and instead have keratinized beaks which are used for chopping up pieces of food to swallow whole when needed.

      • Those that have higher domed shells are typically more land dwelling turtles and turtles with lower domed shells are usually more aquatic.

    • Behavior

      • Due to their bulky and heavy shells, most turtles are relatively slow and rely on their ability to hide in their tough shells to avoid predators rather than fleeing.

    • Senses

      • Sound perception is usually poor in turtles and very few of them vocalize.

      • They have a good sense of smell and can see color.

    • Reproduction

      • All turtles lay eggs and dig holes to protect their young from weather and predators. 

      • Some turtles’ nest temperature determines sex of hatchlings. In general low nest temperatures make males and high nest temperatures make females.

      • Many turtles take a long time to mature sexually.

      • Males of many species of turtles have slightly curved in plastrons to mount females during breeding. Males also usually have longer tails than females. 

    • Unique Threats

      • Many turtles are hunted for their meat which is used to make soups and Chinese medicinal remedies.

    • Fun facts:

      • In North America turtle is the all-inclusive term including all turtles and tortoise applies specifically to the land forms. In Britain tortoise is the all-inclusive term, and turtle only applies to the aquatic members of the group.

      • Some of them can live more than 150 years.

      • The largest species of turtle is the leatherback sea turtle which can reach over 2,000 pounds and 7 feet in length.

        • This is also a unique species of reptile in that creates its own body heat. Because of this trait they have been found in cold oceans beyond the Arctic Circle.

    • Information/ Care Sheets

      • Red Footed Tortoises

      • Sulcata Tortoise

      • Leopard Tortoise

      • Gopher Tortoise

      • Alligator Snapping Turtle

      • Softshell Turtle










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