Tortoises and turtles can make fun little pets, while sea turtles are beautiful and magnificent creatures that should remain protected and free. Aside from their amazing little shells that do so much more than provide these cool little critters with a “home”, there are tons of other fascinating facts about turtles that would make them even more endearing to the everyday turtle-lover. Here are just a few:
- Turtles and tortoises have been around for 215 million years. That’s a really long time and dates back to the time when dinosaurs walked the earth! The oldest turtle was found living on Tonga Island and died at the grand old age of 188.
- Not all species of turtles can retract their heads into their shells. Bet you didn’t know that one!
- A turtle shell is made up of 50 bones (including its rib cage and spine), has nerves and blood supplies embedded into them and is definitely not removable from a turtle’s body. If you hurt a turtle’s shell, they will definitely feel pain.
- The upper section of a turtle’s shell is called a carapace and the lower is called pastron and are joined together by a bony bridge.
- The largest sea turtle known to man is the Leatherback Sea Turtle, which can weigh up to 900 kg!
- Turtles, tortoises and terrapins all belong to a group of reptiles called Testudines. Being reptiles, they are cold-blooded. Many species live around water but they breathe air and lay eggs on land.
- Many turtles are carnivores, but many are also herbivores and omnivores. It really depends on the environment that the turtle is in.
- Many species of turtles are endangered. According to IUCN, there are 300 species of turtles and tortoises on the earth today, but 129 of these are endangered, vulnerable or critically endangered due to loss of habitat and the illegal pet trade.
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