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Turtle/Tortoise/Terrapin Fun Facts


Turtles live mainly in water. Tortoises live mainly on land. Terrapins live in water and on land. The three names are often substituted for each other. On this website, our reference to turtles includes all three (turtles, tortoises, and terrapins).

General Turtle Facts

There are about 250 species of turtles.

Some turtles can live up to 150 years or more (which means information given in Finding Nemo about turtles is accurate).

The largest turtle is the leatherback turtle: shell length is 8 feet long; it weighs about 1,800 pounds.

Though turtles are very slow on land (0.1 to 0.5 mph), leatherback turtles can swim at 22 mph.

Some turtles can dive 3,000 feet below water surface.

A turtle shell (made up of 60 bones) is attached to its spine—the reason why turtles can feel pain through their shell.

Turtles do not have ears to hear—they only feel vibrations. However, their sense of smell is strong.

Airplanes in America collide with an average of 4 turtles a year on runways (according to federal records).


Migration Mystery

Turtles migrate thousands of miles traveling under water, and are able to return to the same exact spot from where they took off. Same as in bird migrations, scientists have not been able so far to figure out scientifically how birds and turtles are able to locate very precise geographic locations thousands of miles apart.

Easy Job for Mothers

Turtles lay eggs under sand or soil and leave to never see them again. Baby turtles break their eggs with an egg tooth and are on their own to survive. Some hatchlings come out with a yolk sack that contains nourishments for a few days before they are completely on their own.