Turtles and Tortoises: Fun Facts and Pet Care Tutorials
May 5th 2020
It's tortoise time! We are excited to announce that the tortoise is our reptile of the month for May. To celebrate these unique and ancient reptiles, we'll be sharing new content on our website, blog, and social media throughout the month.
Turtle/Tortoise Fun Facts
1. A turtle is not a tortoise, but a tortoise is a turtle. A turtle is any shelled reptile belonging to the order Chelonii. The term tortoise more specifically refers to terrestrial, not aquatic, turtles.
2. Tortoises live on land, are usually herbivorous, and can't swim. Their feet are round and stumpy, adapted for walking. Water turtles have flippers or webbed feet with long claws, and their shells are flatter and more streamlined.
3. Tortoises have been on the planet for more than 200 million years, which means these exciting creatures walked the earth at the same time as dinosaurs.
4. Tortoises are found in southern North America, Central America, and South America. Species are also found from Africa and Europe to Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as Madagascar and other islands.
5. With such a large variety of species, tortoises can be found in any number of habitats. Most are found in semiarid zones, but they can also inhabit deserts, grasslands, mountainsides, scrub forests, and sand dunes.
6. They can live from 30-100 years! This means you’ll need to invest in a stable environment for the long term.
7. A group of tortoises is called a creep. Tortoises are solitary roamers; however, so you will rarely them in a group.
8. A tortoise has a collarbone, ribs, and a spine inside its shell. They can also hide their head, feet, and tail insider their shell.
9. Their shells have nerve endings, so tortoises can feel every rub, pet, or scratch.
10. The large scales on a tortoise’s shell, called scutes, are made up of keratin, which is the same substance that your hair and fingernails are made out of. The rings on a tortoise’s scutes can be used to estimate age, just like the rings of a tree!
Tortoises as Pets
Thinking about getting a pet tortoise?
Tortoises are long-lived, hearty, and interesting animals. Although they are endearing pets, they do require very specific care and can be a small challenge to care for. They’ve been around a long time, so they've had plenty of time to pick up a few preferences and to develop a thorough list of personal care needs.
This means that caring for a tortoise is a bigger commitment than you may think. It takes time and dedication to make sure that your tortoise stays healthy and strong. Once you a commit to a new pet tortoise, you’ll want to be prepared with the supplies you need to ensure a smooth and healthy transition to your care.
Tortoise Setup and Care
If you have a pet tortoise or are considering one, check out Fluker's Reptile U resources.
Our Tortoise Care Sheet and video tutorial provide helpful tips to keep your pet happy and healthy. Topics covered include enclosure, substrate, accessories, temperature, lighting, diet, nutrition, growth, behavior, handling, and safety.
Please remember that each species of tortoise has its own special requirements. The resources we provide should be used as a general guide. Pet owners should seek specific information for the particular type of tortoise they own.
Turtles in Trouble
Turtles (and tortoises) are among the most endangered vertebrates on Earth. Roughly half of the world's 300 species are threatened with extinction. Loss and degradation of habitat; hunting for meat and eggs, or for traditional medicines; and the pet trade, both legal and illegal, are largely driving the decline of these reptiles.
Learn more about helpful things you can do to save turtle and tortoise species from disappearing.