Turtle or Tortoise?

By encino - Posted on 17 August 2010



Hawksbill Turtle


How can you tell between a turtle and a tortoise? You can’t separate the two exactly, because a tortoise will always be a turtle too. The turtle group includes tortoises. There are, however, certain characteristics that make tortoises special turtles, so not all turtles can be tortoises. The most important factor that distinguishes the tortoises is that they are not as enthusiastic about water as other turtles. Most turtles live mostly in the water but tortoises only go for a bath every once in a while or go to water to fill up their tanks. They live on the dry land and eat mostly plants. They dig holes for home and don’t like to migrate.


dback terrapin

Diamondback Terrapin


There is another small group somewhat between the two that is called the terrapin. Terrapins may live in fresh or partially salty water like saltwater or mangrove marshes and may spend significant time on the land too. Of course, each animal is suited to its environment. The tortoises generally have bigger shells to store a bigger water tank and sturdy walking and digging legs while some sea turtles may have slim, water-dynamic shells and paddles for front legs. The largest turtle of all is the leatherback sea turtle and the largest tortoise is the galapagos tortoise.




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