Turtle vs Tortoise (Difference Between Turtle and Tortoise)

turtle vs tortoise

Turtle and tortoise, both are reptiles and belongs to the same order of Testudines but in different families. The significant difference between them is that tortoise exists on land, while turtles live in water nearly all the time. In this article, we are going to discuss turtle and tortoise briefly and compare both the creatures. 

What Does a Turtle Look Like?

Turtles are reptiles characterized by a unique bony shell that is developed from ribs and acts as a shield against predators. With all the animals having backbones, turtles are the only creatures that also have a shell made up of 59 to 61 bones covered by plates called scutes, which are made of keratin like human fingernails. The top of the shell is called the carapace, and the bottom is the plastron. The skin of a turtle, especially the land tortoise, looks leathery and sturdy, but it is, in reality, susceptible. 

Where Does a Turtle Live? 

Turtle can be found all over the world, Antarctica; they are the residents of every continent and survive in the world’s temperate and tropical oceans. The habitat of turtles include oceans, swamps, freshwater lakes, ponds, and streams. Terrestrial species are found in deserts, forests, and grasslands. 

How Many Species of Turtles are There?

The order Testudines are divided into two suborders- Cryptodira and Pleurordira and then further splits into 13 families, 75 genera, and more than 300 species. 

What is the Size of the turtle?

The giant turtle is the leatherback sea turtle, adult leatherbacks reach about 3.9 to 6.2 feet and weigh between 440 to 1115 pounds. The largest leatherback recorded weighed 2,019 pounds. The smallest turtle is the speckled tortoise measures than 3.1 inches in length and weighs around 4.9 ounces. 

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What do Turtles Eat?

The food of turtles majorly depends on the type of habitat they survive. Some of the turtle species are carnivorous, while others are vegetation. However, most of them are omnivorous, also feeding on both plants and animals.

The diet of turtles includes fish, jellyfish, carrion, and other plant material. Other things which turtles like to eat are small aquatic animals, like frogs and salamanders. However, some of the species like to eat worms, insects, and crustaceans. 

How fast can a turtle swim?

The fastest turtle is the leatherback turtle that swims at 22 miles per hour. 

How does a turtle reproduce? 

All the turtle species lay eggs that they bury in soil, sand, or vegetation. Some of the species lay only a few oblong-shaped eggs while others lay dozens to 100 of round eggs. In turtles, the temperature in the nest determines the gender of the baby turtles. The warmer nest results in females, while the cooler one results in more males. Depending on the species, the eggs will typically take around 70 to 120 days to hatch. The mother does not incubate or take care of the eggs the babies hatch on their own. 

Facts About Turtles:

  • Turtles are cold-blooded reptiles, and their in-house temperature varies according to their surrounding environment.
  • They have excellent eyesight and a great sense of smell.
  • Turtles are thought to have an exceptional night vision because of large numbers of rod cells in their retinas. 
  • They lack the outer ear, but they have the inner ear. Turtles have thin flaps of skin covering their internal ear bones. 
  • These animals possess sharp beak instead of teeth that enable them to tear.
  • Turtles are divided into two groups based on how they retract their necks into their shells.
  • The Cryptodira pull back their neck backward while shrinking it under their spine.
  • Whereas the Pleurodira contracts their necks to the side.
  • The sea turtle species excrete salt absorbed in seawater from eyes, which makes them seem like crying.
  • Some turtles are known to clean each other. One uses its jaws to pull algae from the shell of the other turtle. 
  • The flesh of a turtle is considered a delicacy in various cultures.

How long do turtles live?

The life span of a turtle varies majorly depending on their species. Typical pet turtles can survive between 10 to 80 years, and the larger species can comfortably live up to 100 years. 

Are turtles endangered?

Under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), many turtle species have threatened, endangered, or classified as critically endangered. 

What does a tortoise look like?

Tortoise is terrestrial reptiles that belong to the turtle family. Unlike the other family members of turtles, these species cannot swim. Instead, these land-dwelling creatures have sturdy claws used for digging. However, tortoise looks similar to turtles but have few differences. These creatures have a much more rounded or domed shell. Their legs and heads can be detached under the protection of their shell. The tortoise has heavy clawed feet that are a perfect tool for digging and burrowing in the ground. 

Where does a tortoise live?

There is a much wide variety of tortoises and all of the habitats in several different habitats. However, the vast majority have found in semi-arid zones. They also inherit in deserts, grasslands, mountainsides, dunes and scrub forests. The population of tortoises have seen in North, South, and Central America. Some of the species have also found in Africa, Indonesia, Europe, and Malaysia. 

How Many Species of Tortoise are There?

Following are the different types of tortoise-

  • Speckled tortoise
  • Egyptian tortoise
  • Russian tortoise
  • Greek tortoise
  • Hermann’s tortoise
  • Pancake
  • Gopher
  • Hinge back
  • Yellow-headed tortoise
  • Desert tortoise
  • Red-footed tortoise
  • Galapagos tortoise

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Other than the above species, the two tortoises- the Indian star tortoise and the Asian forest tortoise are the types of tortoise in India

What is the size of the tortoise?

Different species of the tortoise vary in size and weight. The Galapagos tortoise can grow over 51 inches in length and weigh about 660 pounds.

What does a tortoise eat?

A vast majority of tortoise is herbivorous, while some tortoise eating worms or insects. Tortoises consume grass, flowers, leafy plants, and cactus. However, too much protein consumption will cause defects in their shell. 

How does a tortoise reproduce?

The tortoise lay a low number of soft and leathery eggs per clutch. Each tortoise species differ, but the average incubation is from 100 to 160 days. The eggs are laid in burrows and are covered with sand and different types of soil. When the tortoises hatch, they are fully independent and begin to search for food. 

An interesting fact about tortoise:

A pair of Russian tortoise had sent to space in 1968; the soviet launched Zond 5. Which was the first spacecraft to orbit the moon, It returned and brought back the pair safely. However, they lost 10 percent of their body weight but remain active.

Tortoise behavior: 

Most of the tortoise species are solitary and prefer to roam alone. They slowly wander along, feeding on grasses, fruits, and other plants. As some of the species survive in semi-arid areas where the temperature can be brutal. They will stay in burrows. 

How long does tortoise live?

In some cases, the tortoise can live longer than humans. However, their average lifespan is between 80 to 100 years. Some species have known to live 150 years or older. The oldest living tortoise had estimated to live for 255 years past. 

Are tortoise endangered?

Humans are the greatest threat to the species. Land development had destroyed their natural habitat, and many tortoises have been even killed. For centuries, humans have also eaten their meat, and many species had hunted to death. Tortoises have taken from the wild for the pet trade and their eggs have stolen for consumption. People often purchase to keep in tortoise for aquarium.

Turtle vs Tortoise: Comparison

Although belonging from the same order and closely related to each other. These animals differ in several factors, such as habitat, shell strength, and many others. One cannot compare a fight between turtle and tortoise as both live in a different habitat. Turtles prefer to survive in the water while the tortoise on land. A fight comparison between them would be unfair.  

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