by Belinda

  The largest of all living turtles is a sea turtle. At an impressive six feet in length (and possibly longer) with a weight of some 590 kilograms (1300 pounds) the leatherback sea turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, is the true turtle giant!

  Sea turtles excrete salt absorbed in sea water from their eyes, which is why they seem to cry.

   A snake-neck turtle's neck is as long as its body.

   The musk turtle produces a vile stench odor to ward off predators.

   The world's rarest living creature is the Abingdon Island giant tortoise. An aged male named Lonesome George is the only survivor. Since there is virtually no hope of finding another specimen, his subspecies is doomed to extinction. 1912, Ecuador.

  The smallest chelonian is the speckled cape tortoise or speckled padloper Homopus signatus, which has a shell length of between six and 9.6 cm. Chelonian is the name given to any reptile of the order Chelonia, an ancient group that includes over 200 species of turtle, tortoise and terrapin.

  The Galapagos tortoise is the largest living species, weighing in some cases, over 570 pounds.

  Two galapagos tortoises will fight over territory or a female mate by seeing who can stretch their neck higher over the other.

   The desert tortoise is probably the slowest of all tortoises. It can only move 2 feet each minute.

   Female turtles mate with several males in the ocean and store the sperm inside them, so a single nest may hold babies from various fathers.

   Turtles cannot protrude their tongues from their mouths, but they can smell. Flapping the loose skin under the chin or throat moves air over the Jacobsen’s organ.

  A Madagascar radiated tortoise (Astrochelys radiata) presented to the Tongan royal family by the British explorer Captain Cook in either 1773 or 1777 lived to the age of at least 188. It died in 1965. The animal was called Tui Malila

   Some turtles and tortoises, including the Eastern box turtle, can live for more than a century.

  Turtles are the oldest living group of reptiles, first appearing about 200 million years ago.

   Turtles can be found on every continent except Antarctica.

   The nest temperature determines the sex of the turtle. Cold for boys and hot for girls.

   Sea Turtles were common in the Cretaceous period of 130 million years ago.

   The Gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) is capable of digging underground burrows up to 20 feet long.

   Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) are named for the color of their body fat.

   There are 3 species of tortoises native to the United States.

   When in hibernationing in the winter, a turtle's heart rate may slow to only 5 beats per minute.

   Sea turtles use the earth's magnetic field and the direction of waves and currents to navigate while swimming in the ocean.

   Roughly 7.5 million Red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans) are exported from the United States each year.

   The scientific name of the Alabama map turtle (Graptemys pulchra) literally means beautiful inscribed turtle.

   The green sea turtle can stay under water for over five hours without coming up for air.

   When in the eggs, turtles take about 2 months to incubate and their sex is determined by the temperature. Under 29 degrees they become male, over 29 degrees they become female.

   Chelodina rugosa, the northern long-necked turtle of Australia lays its eggs under water. The eggs remain dormant in the nest until the waters recede and then development begins.

   The highest diversity of turtles is in the South Eastern United States and in South East Asia. If one were to divide up the world into ten degree by ten degree latitude and longitude blocks, there 30 to 40 species of turtles living in the blocks representing these two areas. Densities this high occur on less than 1% of the earth's surface. Over 85% of the earth has fewer than 10 species and 44% has none.

   The eggs of the giant snake-necked turtle (Chelodina expansa) stop developing when the nest temperatures drop below a certain level and then resume when the temperatures rise. Because of this incubation normally takes 12 months.

   Leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea) are the largest of living chelonians. The biggest leatherback on record is a male found dead on a beach in Gwynedd, Wales on 23 September 1988. It measured 9 ft. 5 1/2 inches over the carapace, nine feet across the flippers, and weighed 2,120 lb.

   In the traditional medicine of North Africa, the blood of tortoises is believed to be a cure for warts.

   Stupendemys geographicus was a prehistoric turtle that was 10 feet long and probably weighed 4,000 to 5,000 pounds.

  The Fitzroy River turtle (Rheodytes leukops) can pump water in and out of its cloacal bursae such that it can obtain as much as two-thirds of its oxygen supply through this route.

   Leatherback turtles dive to depths of more than 1000 meters.

   It is estimated that 1 in 10,000 sea turtles survives from hatching to maturity.

   Turtles have a three chambered heart, unlike the four chambered hearts of humans and other mammals.

  Green turtles can migrate more than 1400 miles to lay their eggs.

   Six of the Earth's seven species of sea turtle are found in Australia: the Green Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle, Loggerhead Turtle, Leatherback Turtle, Pacific Ridley Turtle and the Flatback Turtle. The Flatback Turtle is only found in Australia.

   The Diamondback Terrapin was made (Washington) the State reptile and official mascot of Prince George's County's University of Maryland College Park in 1994. However, the mascot, known as Testudo, has been affiliated with the University athletic program since 1933.

   Testudo, the Latin word for tortoise, shell, arch or vault, was also the name given to a technique used by Roman soldiers in warfare. Standing close together, in the shape of a rectangle, they held their shields flat over their heads, to form a protective dome, allowing them to approach the enemy en masse, unharmed by spears, stones and arrows.


How Do You Say Turtle?


"Turtle" in languages from around the world

Arabic Fakroun   Japanese Kame
Afrikaans Skilpad   Muskogee Creek Locv
Chinese Gui, Wangba   Polish Zolw
Czech Zelva   Portugese Tartaruga, Cagado
Cherokee Saligugi, Daksi   Russian Czerepakha
Dutch Schildpad   Spanish Galápago, Tortuga
English Turtle, Tortoise   Swahili Kobe, Kasa
French Tortue   Swedish Sköldpadda
German Schildkröte   Thai Tao  
Greek Chelona   Turkish Kaplumbaga  
Hindi Kacchua Tsalagi   Vietnamese Danh tő
Indonesian Kura-kura   Zulu Ifutu
Italian Tartaruga