A turtle is a common name for a cold-blooded reptile that belongs to the Testudines order.
Turtles can be easily identified by their hard shells that protect their bodies.
The upper part of a turtle's shell is called a carapace and the lower part of their shell is called a plastron.
A turtle's shell is part of its skeletal system and contains over 50 different bones.
A turtle's hard shell helps protect it from predators and the elements.
Many, but not all species of turtles can hide their head inside of their shell.
There are 356 known living species of turtles worldwide and many of them are endangered.
Turtles have a wide variety of eating habits, and it varies by species. Turtles species can be carnivores and only eat meat, omnivores that eat both meat and pants, or herbivores and only eat plants.
Turtles can live for a very long time, with some species living up to 80 years on average.
Turtles are sometimes also called sea turtle, tortoises or terrapins.
The term sea turtle is used for the seven species of turtles who belong to the Cryptodira suborder. An example of a sea turtle is the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta).
The term tortoise is usually used for a turtle species that spends most of its time on land. An example of a tortoise is the African spurred tortoise (Centrochelys sulcata).
The term terrapin is usually used for a turtle species that spends most of its time in fresh or brackish waters. An example of a terrapin is the red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans).
The leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) is the largest living turtle species. It can weigh between 500 and 1,540 pounds and reach a total length of up to 7.2 feet.
The speckled tortoise (Chersobius signatus) is the smallest living turtle species. They weight between 3.5 and 5.8 ounces and reach a length of up to 3.1 inches.
A Seychelles giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea hololissa) holds the record for the longest living land animal in the world. This turtles name is Johnathan and estimated to be between 187 and 188 years old as of 2019.
Fossils of turtles can be found as far back as the Middle Jurassic Period. This makes turtles one of the oldest living reptiles, even older than alligators, crocodiles and snakes.
The Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group published a report in 2011 that estimated 25 species of turtles will most likely go extinct. It also estimated another 40 species of turtles had a high risk of going extinct.