Turtles | Testudines

Turtles and tortoises are members of the Testudines reptile family characterized by their hard shells that allow them to retract their head and limbs for protection. Turtles and tortoises are separable by the fact that tortoises are land-dwelling creatures while most turtle species are at least partly aquatic creatures. Most tortoises live 80-150 years, although this is a debated fact with the Aldabra giant tortoise rumored to be able to live 255 years. Tortoises are typically herbivores, but turtles will eat aquatic plants, insects, snails, and small fish. Both turtles and tortoises are cold-blooded and rely on their habitat to maintain a comfortable body temperature.

What do turtles eat?

What a turtle eats depends on their species, kind of jaw it has, and the food that is available in its habitat. Some species are carnivores and others are vegetarians, but most turtles are omnivores. For example, leatherback sea turtles eat mostly jellyfish while freshwater turtles eat worms, snails, crustaceans, water plants, algae, and fallen fruit.

How do turtles mate?

Turtles mate in the spring and early summer. Some male turtles fight for the right to mate with a female while others use a mating ritual. In order to mate, the male and female turtles interlace their tails so that their shell openings align together. The female turtle later makes a nest and lays the fertilized eggs to hatch.

How long do turtles live?

How long a turtle lives is determined by its species, but most turtles can live a few decades if they survive the first few years of life. Large turtle species and tortoises can live long lives of more than 100 years.

Turtles Guides
Browse through our curated Turtles Guides for additional categorizations, tips, details, variations, styles, and histories of Turtles. Guides provide additional insights into the unique properties and shared relationships between elements.
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10.2”-13” | 26-33 cm
18.5”-24.4” | 47-62 cm (Carapace)
22”-29” | 56-74 cm (Carapace)
176-251 lb | 80-114 kg
11-45 years (wild); 20-70 years (captivity)
Alligator Snapping Turtle
33.000
62.000
74.000
114.000
70.00
93700
3D
Alligator Snapping Turtle
1.4”-1.73” | 3.5-4.4 cm
2.36”-2.75” | 6-7 cm (Carapace)
3”-3.5” | 7.6-8.9 cm (Carapace)
.2-.24 lb | .09-.11 kg
20-30 years (wild); 40-60 years (captivity)
Bog Turtle
4.400
7.000
8.900
0.110
60.00
8350
3D
Bog Turtle
3.75”-7.1” | 9.5-18 cm
6.3”-11.4” | 16-29 cm (Carapace)
8”-14” | 20.3-35.6 cm (Carapace)
11-44 lb | 5-20 kg
30-45 years (wild); 30-70 years (captivity)
Common Snapping Turtle
18.000
29.000
35.600
20.000
70.00
198000
3D
Common Snapping Turtle
14.2”-17.3” | 36-44 cm
27.5”-33” | 70-84 cm (Carapace)
31”-37” | 79-94 cm (Carapace)
154-198 lb | 70-90 kg
40-60 years (wild); 50-100 years (captivity)
Flatback Sea Turtle
44.000
84.000
94.000
90.000
100.00
2150
3D
Flatback Sea Turtle
27.0”-36.0” | 69-91 cm
48.0”-60.0” | 122-152 cm
330-550 lb | 150-250 kg
100-150 (wild), 175 (captivity)
Galápagos Giant Tortoise
91.000
152.000
250.000
175.00
1100
3D
Galápagos Giant Tortoise
14.2”-18.9” | 36-48 cm
27.5”-36.2” | 70-92 cm (Carapace)
36”-48” | 91-122 cm (Carapace)
243-419 lb | 110-190 kg
60-75 years (wild); 80-120 years (captivity)
Green Sea Turtle
48.000
92.000
122.000
190.000
120.00
46700
3D
Green Sea Turtle
9.4”-15” | 24-38 cm
17.7”-27.2” | 45-69 cm (Carapace)
24”-36” | 61-91 cm (Carapace)
99-198 lb | 45-90 kg
30-45 years (wild); 30-60 years (captivity)
Hawksbill Sea Turtle
38.000
69.000
91.000
90.000
60.00
15400
3D
Hawksbill Sea Turtle
12.6”-18.1” | 32-46 cm
24”-33.5” | 61-85 cm (Carapace)
30”-42” | 76-107 cm (Carapace)
154-375 lb | 70-170 kg
45-60 years (wild); 50-77 years (captivity)
Loggerhead Sea Turtle
46.000
85.000
107.000
170.000
77.00
43000
3D
Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Squirtle
105000
1’8” | 50.8 cm
19.8 lb | 9 kg
#007
Squirtle
50.800
9.000
7.00
105000
3D
Squirtle
Galápagos Giant Tortoise
Dimensioned size comparison drawing of a Galápagos Giant Tortoise compared to the size of an average person

The Galapagos Giant Tortoise, also referred to as the Galapagos tortoise, inhabits only two remote archipelagos: the Galapagos Islands 1000 km west of mainland Ecuador, and Aldabra in the Indian Ocean, 700 km east of Tanzania. They are the largest living species of tortoise, with tortoises on islands with humid highlands being larger with domed shells and short necks. Tortoises on islands with dry lowlands tend to be smaller. Distinguishing characteristics include a large bony shell of a dull brown or gray color that can hold its head, neck, and fore limbs when drawn back for protection. The Galapagos tortoise is an herbivore that consumes a diet of cacti, grasses, leaves, lichens, berries, oranges, and milkweed.

The typical Galápagos Giant Tortoise has an overall height of 27.0”-36.0” (69-91 cm) and body length of 48.0”-60.0” (122-152 cm). An average Galápagos Giant Tortoise weighs between 330-550 lb (150-250 kg) and has a typical lifespan of 100-150 (wild), 175 (captivity).

Series of elevation and plan illustrations of a Galápagos Giant Tortoise in various positions
The Galapagos Giant Tortoise is the largest living species of tortoise and inhabits only two remote archipelagos. Distinguishing characteristics include a large bony shell of a dull brown or gray color that can hold its head, neck, and fore limbs when drawn back for protection.

The typical Galápagos Giant Tortoise has an overall height of 27.0”-36.0” (69-91 cm) and body length of 48.0”-60.0” (122-152 cm). An average Galápagos Giant Tortoise weighs between 330-550 lb (150-250 kg) and has a typical lifespan of 100-150 (wild), 175 (captivity).

Series of elevation and plan illustrations of a Galápagos Giant Tortoise in various positions
Galápagos Giant Tortoise
Height:
27.0”-36.0” | 69-91 cm
Width:
Length:
48.0”-60.0” | 122-152 cm
Depth:
Weight:
330-550 lb | 150-250 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Chelonoidis nigra
Lifespan
100-150 (wild), 175 (captivity)

Drawings include:
Galápagos Giant Tortoise side elevation, side (person), side (walking), front, plan

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Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macrochelys temminckii)
Comparison illustration of the size of a Alligator Snapping Turtle to other turtles and a person

Native to the freshwater areas of the southeastern United States, the Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) is distinguished as the largest freshwater turtle in North America and one of the largest in the world. Its name derives from both its strong jaw and its ridged shell resembling that of an alligator’s skin. Whereas the Common Snapping Turtle has a smoother shell surface, the Alligator Snapping Turtle has three rows of spikes along its carapace, or hard upper shell. Noted as a mostly carnivorous scavenger, it will feed on both live and dead organisms with a diet consisting mainly of fish.

The Alligator Snapping Turtle has a carapace length between 22”-29” (56-74 cm), carapace width of 18.5”-24.4” (47-62 cm), body height of 10.2”-13” (26-33 cm), and weight in the range of 176-251 lb (80-114 kg). The typical lifespan of the Alligator Snapping Turtle is between 11-45 years in the wild and 20-70 years in captivity.

Scaled collection of drawings of Alligator Snapping Turtle in various poses
Native to the freshwater areas of the southeastern United States, the Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) is distinguished as the largest freshwater turtle in North America and one of the largest in the world. Its name derives from both its strong jaw and its ridged shell.

The Alligator Snapping Turtle has a carapace length between 22”-29” (56-74 cm), carapace width of 18.5”-24.4” (47-62 cm), body height of 10.2”-13” (26-33 cm), and weight in the range of 176-251 lb (80-114 kg). The typical lifespan of the Alligator Snapping Turtle is between 11-45 years in the wild and 20-70 years in captivity.

Scaled collection of drawings of Alligator Snapping Turtle in various poses
Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macrochelys temminckii)
Height:
10.2”-13” | 26-33 cm
Width:
18.5”-24.4” | 47-62 cm (Carapace)
Length:
22”-29” | 56-74 cm (Carapace)
Depth:
Weight:
176-251 lb | 80-114 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Macrochelys temminckii
Lifespan
11-45 years (wild); 20-70 years (captivity)

Drawings include:

Alligator Snapping Turtle top view, side

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Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)
Scale illustration of an average Common Snapping Turtle compared to other turtle species

The Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) is a kind of freshwater turtle with an extensive habitat range and considered the most widespread turtle as the name suggests. Physically, it has a large shell of brown color with a tail nearly as long. Considered to be at the top of the food chain in its environment, the Common Snapping Turtle has very few predators and is only the most vulnerable as a hatchling. It is known for its powerful jaw and aggressive disposition, but will only use its strength against potential predators. As such, the Common Snapping Turtle is noted as docile and curious upon encounters with humans.

The Common Snapping Turtle has a carapace length between 8”-14” (20.3-35.6 cm), carapace width of 6.3”-11.4” (16-29 cm), body height of 3.75”-7.1” (9.5-18 cm), and weight in the range of 11-44 lb (5-20 kg). The typical lifespan of the Common Snapping Turtle is between 30-45 years in the wild and 30-70 years in captivity.

Series of measured illustrations of the Common Snapping Turtle
The Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) is a kind of freshwater turtle with an extensive habitat range and considered the most widespread turtle as the name suggests. Physically, it has a large shell of brown color with a tail nearly as long.

The Common Snapping Turtle has a carapace length between 8”-14” (20.3-35.6 cm), carapace width of 6.3”-11.4” (16-29 cm), body height of 3.75”-7.1” (9.5-18 cm), and weight in the range of 11-44 lb (5-20 kg). The typical lifespan of the Common Snapping Turtle is between 30-45 years in the wild and 30-70 years in captivity.

Series of measured illustrations of the Common Snapping Turtle
Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)
Height:
3.75”-7.1” | 9.5-18 cm
Width:
6.3”-11.4” | 16-29 cm (Carapace)
Length:
8”-14” | 20.3-35.6 cm (Carapace)
Depth:
Weight:
11-44 lb | 5-20 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Chelydra serpentina
Lifespan
30-45 years (wild); 30-70 years (captivity)

Drawings include:

Common Snapping Turtle top view, side

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Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
Scale illustration of an average Hawksbill Sea Turtle compared to other turtle species and a person

The Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) can be found throughout tropical ocean coastlines around the world, prominently inhabiting coral reefs where its diet consists mainly of sponges. It has a tapered head that comes to a sharp, narrow point resembling that of a beak, making it easily distinguishable from other kinds of sea turtles. The Hawksbill Sea Turtle also has a pattern of overlapping plates on its amber-colored, serrated shell as well as a set of claws on its flippers. The color of its shell has been noted to change as a result of water temperature.

The Hawksbill Sea Turtle has a carapace length between 24”-36” (61-91 cm), carapace width of 17.7”-27.2” (45-69 cm), body height of 9.4”-15” (24-38 cm), and weight in the range of 99-198 lb (45-90 kg). The typical lifespan of the Hawksbill Sea Turtle is between 30-45 years in the wild and 30-60 years in captivity.

Series of measured illustrations of the Hawksbill Sea Turtle
The Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) can be found throughout tropical ocean coastlines around the world, prominently inhabiting coral reefs where its diet consists mainly of sponges. It has a tapered head that comes to a sharp, narrow point resembling that of a beak.

The Hawksbill Sea Turtle has a carapace length between 24”-36” (61-91 cm), carapace width of 17.7”-27.2” (45-69 cm), body height of 9.4”-15” (24-38 cm), and weight in the range of 99-198 lb (45-90 kg). The typical lifespan of the Hawksbill Sea Turtle is between 30-45 years in the wild and 30-60 years in captivity.

Series of measured illustrations of the Hawksbill Sea Turtle
Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
Height:
9.4”-15” | 24-38 cm
Width:
17.7”-27.2” | 45-69 cm (Carapace)
Length:
24”-36” | 61-91 cm (Carapace)
Depth:
Weight:
99-198 lb | 45-90 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Eretmochelys imbricata
Lifespan
30-45 years (wild); 30-60 years (captivity)

Drawings include:

Hawksbill Sea Turtle top view, side

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Bog Turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii)
Size comparison drawing of the Bog Turtle compared to other small reptile species

The Bog Turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii) is the smallest turtle in North America, commonly found in the eastern United States. It prefers open habitats with slow-flowing water such as fens, bogs, meadows, or sedge marshes. The bog turtle is omnivorous and has a low reproduction rate, making it considered a threatened species. Its skin and carapace are black or dark brown, while its head, neck, and limbs show yellow or orange spots. Besides, each side of the neck shows distinctive yellow-orange or red spots. This coloration is used to distinguish it from the spotted turtle. The bog turtle has a domed and rectangular-shaped carapace, narrowing towards the head and widening towards the tail.

The Bog Turtle has a carapace length between 3”-3.5” (7.6-8.9 cm), carapace width of 2.36”-2.75” (6-7 cm), body height of 1.4”-1.73” (3.5-4.4 cm), and weight in the range of .2-.24 lb (.09-.11 kg). The typical lifespan of the Bog Turtle is between 20-30 years in the wild and 40-60 years in captivity.

Set of scaled top and elevation drawings of the Bog Turtle
The Bog Turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii) is the smallest turtle in North America, commonly found in the eastern United States. It prefers open habitats with slow-flowing water such as fens, bogs, meadows, or sedge marshes. The bog turtle is omnivorous and has a low reproduction rate.

The Bog Turtle has a carapace length between 3”-3.5” (7.6-8.9 cm), carapace width of 2.36”-2.75” (6-7 cm), body height of 1.4”-1.73” (3.5-4.4 cm), and weight in the range of .2-.24 lb (.09-.11 kg). The typical lifespan of the Bog Turtle is between 20-30 years in the wild and 40-60 years in captivity.

Set of scaled top and elevation drawings of the Bog Turtle
Bog Turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii)
Height:
1.4”-1.73” | 3.5-4.4 cm
Width:
2.36”-2.75” | 6-7 cm (Carapace)
Length:
3”-3.5” | 7.6-8.9 cm (Carapace)
Depth:
Weight:
.2-.24 lb | .09-.11 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Glyptemys muhlenbergii
Lifespan
20-30 years (wild); 40-60 years (captivity)

Drawings include:

Bog Turtle top view, side

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