Turtles and Tortoises!!!

THE cute, the ugly, and the "Fabulous"

Info About Turtles and Tortoises

There is only one family of land turtles. This includes the most widely distributed of nonmarine turtles and perhaps the longest-living of all turtles. Tortoises have steep-sided carapaces, and thick scales on their heads and forelegs. These land turtles are found on all continents and a few islands. Africa has a greater number, and more species, of tortoises than any other continent.

Are Tortoises Turtles, Too?

Turtles are an order, or large group, of reptiles. This order is divided into smaller groups called families. One of these families of turtles is the tortoise family. So, yes, tortoises are turtles, too. Unlike sea turtles, tortoises live only on land. Like the leopard tortoise, tortoises have big, heavy shells that are shaped like domes. And unlike sea turtles, they can hide inside their shells for protection. When they’re frightened, tortoises just tuck their heads and tails inside their shells. Some tortoises also tuck their feet in. Other tortoises pull their front feet over their heads. Tortoises move very slowly on land. They are the slowest of all turtles. In fact, they are the slowest of all reptiles. But in spite of being slow, the stout, short legs and feet of the tortoise are just right for walking on dry grass and rough ground.

What Is the Difference Between Turtles and Tortoises?

Tortoises are turtles that are strictly land animals. They take drinks and short baths at watering holes, but their behavior shows a strong preference for walking about on land. They never dip their head underwater or bathe for long periods.

What Are Your Responsibilities as an Owner?

Your turtle is not a toy. It is a living creature that knows when it is thirsty, hungry, and sleepy. It feels pain and will try to protect itself from danger. If you ignore your turtle, its life will be short, and it will suffer. As an owner, it is your responsibility to give your turtle the best home and life you can. You must feed it nutritious foods, keep its living quarters clean, and provide it with enough space. You must take it to the veterinarian regularly and protect it from animals that might hurt it. If you go on vacation, you must make appropriate arrangements. Your turtle will fare better if you educate yourself about its natural history, biology, and captive care. Also, ask yourself, “What can I do to make my turtle a little happier?” Maybe get it a few raspberries? Show it you care by keeping its home tidy? If you do such things as these, it is likely that you and your box turtle will have a very long friendship.

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