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It's World Turtle Day!

It's World Turtle Day!

21st May 2020
By: Justine - F&F

Let's talk Turtles! Or Tortoises? What's the difference? Don't worry, we'll settle that for you. 

We've seen a few turtles in our lifetime and are always amazed at how different they are from coast to coast. Some live on land while others live in the water. They also vary from size with the largest being the Leatherback Sea Turtle which can be as long as 1.8 – 2.2 meters and weigh 250 – 700 kg! That's pretty huge! Check our David Attenborough next to one of these gigantic turtles for scale. 

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Leatherback Sea Turtle Next To David Attenborough

 

The smallest turtles in the world are Speckled Padloper Tortoise which measures a full 3 inches (6-8 cm) for adult males and 4 inches (8-10 cm) for adult females. They are so tiny that a few could fit in your hand. And they seem to have an appetite as large as themselves...

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Speckled Padloper Tortoise Eating A Strawberry

 

How long do turtles live?

We all remember the surfer dude sounding sea turtle from Finding Nemo named Crush who taught us that sea turtles can live up to 150 years and yes, there have been documented cases of sea turtles living this long. Of course, this does vary depending on the species of turtle and whether they are in the wild or captivity. 

What's the difference between Tortoises and Turtles?

They are both reptiles from the order of Testudines, but tortoises reside on land, while turtles live in the water some or nearly all of the time. Sea turtles mainly come onto land to lay their eggs in the sand. 

What do they eat?

Green sea turtles have a more plant-based diet and eat seagrass, so I guess they're vegan like us? They do enjoy some jellyfish from time to time and have been known to eat decaying fish, which doesn't sound too appetizing! 

Land turtles have been known to have a more extensive diet enjoying things like earthworms, grubs, snails, beetles, and caterpillars, grass, fruit, berries, mushrooms, and flowers. 

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Here are 5 facts about turtles you might not know:

  1. The temperature of developing eggs determines the sex of the turtle - Usually, for most species, the gender is determined after fertilisation of the egg, however with turtles it all depends on the temperate of the egg while it develops. The cooler temperatures result in males and the warmer results in females. Due to global warming and turtles laying their eggs in the sand, researchers say this could lead to an imbalance of male and female turtles which could be detrimental to the species. 

  2. There are approximately 356 species of turtles - living on land in all continents except Antarctica and in both saltwater and freshwater.

  3. Sea turtles have special glands that help remove salt from the water they drink. These 'salt glands' are located behind their eyes and act like their very own water filtration system.  

  4. Sea turtles use earth's magnetic fields to navigate. Turtles know their home beach’s location or 'distinctive magnetic signature', through what is called 'geomagnetic imprinting'.

  5. Galápagos giant tortoises developed a taste for guava fruit after it was brought to the island and most of their plant food source was eaten by goats that were not native to the island. 

How can we keep our favourite prehistoric creatures safe? The best way is to stay out of their habitat, but if you're already doing that, here are some other things you can do to help:

  • Do not buy a turtle or tortoise from a pet shop as it increases demand from the wild.
  • Never remove turtles or tortoises from the wild unless they are sick or injured and always call your local wildlife organisation for them to takeover. 
  • If a tortoise is crossing a busy street, pick it up and send it in the same direction it was going – if you try to make it go back, it will turn right around again. 

We hope you loved reading these fun facts about turtles and continue to learn more about our land and sea dwelling friends! Let's keep them safe! 

 

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