Tortoises and aquatic turtles – two very different animals

turtles. I know I did, for sure. Well, although people confuse them a lot, in reality, they are different both in looks and in other typical characteristics.

Even though they both belong to the order of Testudines, they come from different classification families. One major difference is the fact that tortoises spend their time on land, while turtles enjoy the water and live nearby all of the time. However, they both lay their eggs on the ground.

The process is quite similar to both types and consists of the mother digging a burrow and laying up to twelve eggs inside. From there on, the future hatchlings stay in the egg for 90 to 120 120. When the incubation process has reached its end, the babies dig their way up to the surface. Here comes the difference: tortoise mothers protect their hatchlings for a period of 80 days but the turtles leave the babies to survive on their own from birth.

Another aspect is related to the physical features. If you thought they look like two beans in a pod, you thought wrong. The tortoise has the shell in a shape of a dome and the feet are short and sturdy. Moreover, its legs are a tad bent and not straight under the body. On the other hand, turtles have flat shells and their feet have long claws that ensure a strong grip and helps them climb the riverbanks easier and faster.  

This major difference has to do with the fact that turtles generally live in water and they need a streamlined shell to swim and dive. Tortoises are prone to be attacked by predators so the dome-shaped shell keeps them safe. Compared to a turtle’s shell, tortoises have a heavier shell so they couldn’t possibly get near the water for a swimming session.

I should explain the way these creatures feed themselves. The majority of tortoises are herbivores meaning that they like to eat a variety of vegetables, grasses, fruits, and all sorts of flowers. It’s a known fact that some species of tortoise get to eat up to 200 different types of plants during one year time.

Now here comes the big news. Turtles are actually omnivores because they eat both veggies and animals such as jellyfish, small fish or earthworms.  

In terms of lifespan, sea turtles can live up to 70 years, 50 of those being required for them to reach maturity. Common turtles don’t go beyond 40 years old.

Tortoises are the lucky ones because they can reach easily 80 years old. There have been cases of them that lived for more than 150 years. According to experts, it’s even possible for tortoises to get past the 100 years of age limit in captivity if you carefully control and nurture their environment.

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