Shell Show-and-Tell


They both have four legs and carry their house with them, but did you know turtles and tortoises are different? Where they live and what they eat can help you tell one from the other!


Turtles and tortoises are reptiles, and even have another close relative, the terrapin. You can find these animals on all continents except Antarctica—and where they make their homes is a clue as to “who’s who”!


Turtles spend most their life in the water, and many have webbed feetThe feet of some birds, such as ducks, some mammals, such as otters, or some reptiles, such as turtles, where the toes are connected near the tips by a thin membrane of skin. This helps these animals paddle or swim through water. for swimming. Sea turtles even have long feet that form flippers and a streamlined body shape. They rarely leave the ocean, except when the females come ashore to lay their eggs. Turtles eat small insects, snails, worms, fish, and plants that grow in the water.


Tortoises live on land and eat low-growing shrubs, grasses, and even cactus. Their feet are round and stumpy for walking on land. Tortoises that live in hot, dry habitats use their strong forelimbs to dig burrows. When it gets too warm, they can go underground and cool off!


Besides their shell, turtles and tortoises have one other thing in common: they’re really cool animals! They can weigh from a few ounces up to 1,800 pounds, depending on their speciesA group of individuals that have many of the same characteristics, and are different from all other animals in some important way. Hamsters and mice are two different species of rodent.; and some can live over 100 years. The next time you see one of these reptiles, be sure to say “Shello!”