Turtles | Tortoises | 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 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.
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 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.