1.) Turtles and Tortoises belong to a group of animals called Reptiles.
A) They are cold-blooded (Or ecothermic), which means they are unable to regulate their own body temperature like mammals. They are essentially the temperature of their surroundings.
B) They are covered in scales.
C) The upper shell is called the carapace, the lower shell is called the plastron.
2.) Turtles and Tortoises live longer than most any other animal on the Planet. A sea turtle may live 100 years, and some species of tortoises may live over 150 years!!!
3.) Turtles have been on the planet for more than 220 Million years!
4.) Prehistoric turtles had teeth! Today there are no turtles with teeth, instead their mouth is called a beak.
5.) Turtles live in nearly every habitat on earth with exception to the arctic and Antarctica.
6.) There are nearly 300 species of turtles on Earth and counting.
7.) All turtles have shells, but not all shells are the same. Some have soft shells; most have hard shells. Some are flattened, some are highly domed, and others are somewhere in between.
8.) Shells are the turtle. They cannot climb out of their shell; it is a modified spinal column and is attached to them.
9.) The outer thin layer of the shell is made up of a substance called keratin. This is the same thing your fingernails are made from.
10. The alligator snapping turtle is endangered in the state of Missouri. They may reach weights up to 200 pounds (or more).
11. The alligator snapping turtle uses a special worm-like lure located in the back of its mouth to attract prey. The turtle opens its mouth and wiggles this lure like a worm. When a fish sees it, it swims right into the turtle’s mouth, and SNAP! It is now a meal for a hungry turtle.
12. The largest turtle in the world is the Leatherback Sea Turtle, which may weigh as much as 2,000 pounds!!!
13. The largest tortoise in the world is the Galapagos Tortoise, and may weigh as much as 850 pounds!
14. Tortoises and Turtles are different in many ways:
A) Tortoises live on land and generally cannot swim
B) Turtles live in or near water.
C) Turtles usually have webbed feet for swimming, tortoises have strong elephant-like feet
D) All turtles are not tortoises, but all tortoises are turtles…confused? All turtles and tortoises belong to a group of animals called testudines.
15. All turtles, no matter the species, must leave water to lay eggs in shallow burrows they dig with their legs. The temperature in the nest will determine the gender of the babies when they hatch. Higher temperatures usually yield females, while cooler temperatures usually yield males.
16. Turtles break from the shell using a special “egg tooth.” They use this tooth to crack the egg from within. Once fully hatched the egg tooth will drop off, typically within a few hours.
17. Over 129 of approximately 300 species of turtle and tortoise on Earth today are either vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered, according to the IUCN. Threats include loss of habitat, poaching and the illegal pet trade.
18. Sea turtles have special glands which help remove salt from the water they drink.
19. A pair of Russian tortoises went into space. In 1968, the Soviet Union launched Zond 5, a space probe that was the first spacecraft to orbit the moon. It returned safely and the tortoises survived. They had lost about 10 percent of their body weight, but they remained active and showed no loss of appetite, according to NASA.
20. In several species of water turtles, the males have extra long toenails. They use these nails to wave in the face of females they are trying to attract as a potential mate.