6 Differences Between Turtles and Tortoises
Turtles vs. Tortoises
Have you ever asked yourself; what is the difference between a turtle and a tortoise? Have you ever wondered if there is any difference in the first place?
In this article I will cover the six main differences between turtles and tortoises.
The first difference is probably the most obvious one being that turtles live some or most of their time in the water whereas tortoises live on land and go to the water only to drink or soak their bodies to cool down. Both will spend some time on land to bask under the sun to get their dose of UV light but only the turtle can swim in the deep whereas the tortoise could drown.
2. Physical Characteristics
The second difference is in the shape of their shells and legs. Their shells and legs are each adapted to their environment. Turtles have a flatter shell that allows them to glide in the water along with the help of their webbed feet equipped with claws. Their feet resemble the ones of a frog as it helps them push themselves through the water. On the other hand, tortoises have a dome-shaped shell and bent legs that resembles the miniature version of elephant feet equipped with rounded nails that help dig in the ground.
The third difference is in their diet. Contrary to popular belief, turtles and tortoises don't just eat lettuce and tomatoes. In fact, turtles have a more omnivorous diet; which means they will eat vegetation such as grass, clovers, flowers, vegetables and fruits but they will also eat protein based food such as insects and meat. On the other hand tortoises have a herbivorous diet; which means they will only eat plant based food such as grass, clovers, flowers, vegetables and fruits.
The fourth difference is in how they care for their eggs. As soon as turtles lay eggs, they will leave their nest and go back to their habitat in the water. Shortly after, the hatchlings will come out of their eggs after 90-120 days. On the other hand, tortoises will stay around the nest to protect the eggs before they hatch after 90-120 days as well.
The fifth difference is in how long each one can live up to. Turtles can live between 20 to 40 years while sea turtles live a little longer; on average 60 to 70 years. On the other hand, tortoises have a longer lifespan. Depending on the species, they can reach up to 150 years old!! Most of them will live between 60 to 80 years (like us humans!).
6. Geographical Distribution
The last difference is in their distribution. Turtles can be found in both hot and cold countries, in cases of very cold weather they can hibernate. On the other hand, tortoises do not have the ability to hibernate, they are found in warmer countries in which they don’t require a huge amount of water to survive.