People tend to think that turtles are slow and boring creatures. I beg to differ. Turtles are actually incredibly interesting, and we can learn a lot from them. Turtles are among the oldest creatures that have inhabited this planet.
They love water and usually make their homes in water. Their distinct shape lets them withdraw their head and limbs into a shell to protect themselves. Kids find turtles very interesting, especially their shells and body parts. Some kids even wish to keep turtles as pets in their homes. Thus, most parents would want to know these 11 amazing turtle facts for kids. Do you?
11 Most Interesting & Fun Facts about Turtles for Kids
Anyone who’s ever been fascinated by turtles as a child knows the thrill of learning about prehistoric animals. As adults, there is still a corner of our minds reserved for these magnificent creatures that fascinate us with their unique physical characteristics.
What better way to rekindle your childhood memories than by reliving them through some amazing facts about turtles?
1. Turtles Can’t Eat or Swallow Food on Their Own
Turtles need water to ingest their meal since they lack saliva. Furthermore, since turtles lack teeth, they are unable to chew their food. That is why they must depend on water to propel food down their throats.
Like their aquatic siblings, land turtles also lack salivary glands and teeth. As a result, they need the assistance of water to chew and digest the meal. However, they do not have to immerse their heads in water like aquatic turtles.
2. The Size of a Turtle’s Brain Has Increased over Years
Turtles are incredibly smart, intelligent, and perceptive. According to researchers, turtles have innate intelligence, which helps them survive in the environment by foraging for food and keeping an eye out for predators.
Experts discovered that the size of a turtle’s brain has expanded with time. Turtle brain shapes and sizes range across species, and they reflect sensory abilities and habits. Furthermore, it has been shown that turtles may remember and learn from their experiences.
3. Turtles can’t Stick out Their Tongues
Turtles do, in fact, have tongues. However, it is difficult to detect since they cannot stick it out of their mouths. Turtle tongues are practically set within their skulls.
Furthermore, the tongues of various turtle species have evolved differently to serve diverse functions. Turtles utilize their tongues for food and breathing. However, various species of turtles have been seen using their tongues in a variety of ways and for varied reasons.
4. The Red-Eared Slider, Has Seven Types of Cone Cell
The red-eared slider, a freshwater turtle, contains seven different kinds of cone cells. It is considered to be the most complex cone system found in vertebrates. The eyes of Red-Eared Slider have both rod cells for low light vision and seven types of cones for full-color vision, which allows them to navigate efficiently during the night.
5. Turtles Can Breathe Through Their Butt
When turtles hibernate, their main source of oxygen is through their butts. Technically, the term for this is cloacal respiration, but it’s not really breathing at all. Instead, it’s more like diffusing oxygen and carbon dioxide in and out of the body.
When the temperature drops in the winter, a turtle’s internal temperature also drops, and its metabolism slows down to keep up with it. This reduces their oxygen needs, and while they’re hibernating in the mudded bottoms of freshwater, they get enough oxygen from the water running over them, which is enough to keep them alive.
6. Turtles Have Been Found to Urinate Through Their Mouths
According to researchers at the National University of Singapore, Pelodiscus Sinensis turtles were found plunging their heads into pools of water and twitching their tongues, but they weren’t drinking water. Turtles were instead found to excrete their body wastes through the mouth.
Because urea is transported via the reptiles’ bloodstreams to their mouths, it is not technically urinating but still fascinating.
7. Turtles harness Earth’s Magnetic field as a global GPS
Researcher Nathan Putman discovered that turtles might utilize the Earth’s magnetic field as their own GPS. They can determine their exact location by sensing the field and heading in the proper direction. They might use the field as a compass to figure out whether they’re and where they need to be in order to survive.
Their magnetic sensitivity protects them against environmental stress and predators. Turtles are reported to traverse 10,000 miles every year due to their incredible sense of direction.
8. Some Turtles Have Hinges in Their Shells
There is a hinge in the shells in some families of turtles, so the turtle can almost completely hide. Box turtles are the only turtles in North America that have a flexible hinge on their belly that makes it easy to close their shells like a box.
9. Turtles Are Ectothermic (Cold-Blooded)
It means they can’t regulate their body temperature. They rely on the temperature of their environment to keep their body temperature stable. Sea turtles can generally regulate their body temperatures by moving between various water temperatures or by sunbathing in the sun at the water’s surface or on the beach.
Learn more about them here – 11 Amazing Sea Turtles Facts for Kids
Their ectothermic bodies decrease their metabolism while increasing their longevity. It is known that a turtle named Tu’ I Malila, found in Tonga Island, is the oldest ever documented turtle that died at the grand age of 188.
10. The Largest Turtle in the World Weighs 2000 lbs.
The leatherback turtle is the biggest marine turtle species in terms of both length and weight. The leatherback turtle is the world’s biggest live marine turtle. They may grow to be 6 feet long and weigh between 550 and 2,000 pounds. They mostly eat jellyfish.
The biggest leatherback turtle ever recorded was 3 m (9 ft) long and weighed 2,016 lbs. It was on exhibit at the National Museum of Wales. It was almost 100 years old when it died.
11. Only Antarctica Has No Turtles
Turtles, being adaptable animals, can survive in almost any environment. While the majority of the species are located in south-eastern America and South Asia, they may also be found elsewhere in the globe. Except for the Arctic and Antarctic, they may be found worldwide.
The Vietnamese Wood Turtle dwells in chilly, limestone highlands. The Malayan Box Turtle lives in a hot, humid aquatic habitat, consumes whatever it finds in the water, and has webbed feet.
The Desert Tortoise lives in a hot, desert climate. Diamondback Terrapins dwell in brackish (slightly salty) lowland coastal waters in the eastern and southern United States.
There are many types of sea turtles that spend their whole lives in the water, only coming ashore to lay eggs. Sea turtles may occasionally be found in the European Arctic, but not Antarctica. Want to learn more? Click here – 11 Amazing Sea Turtles Facts for Kids
Also want to know about some other turtle species, read these articles:
Different Types of Turtles
There are around 356 species of turtles that inhabit the area, in both freshwater and saltwater, across all continents except Antarctica. A few species dwell in seasonally cold areas with three-month growth periods, whereas others reside in the tropics and thrive all year.
Let’s take a look at the most common turtles around the world –
- Leatherback Turtle – The leatherback turtle may grow to be 6 feet long, making it the world’s biggest turtle. It also travels the longest and dives the deepest, reaching depths of almost 3000 feet. They may be found from Alaska to South Africa.
- Loggerhead Turtle – The loggerhead turtles derive their name from having a huge or log-like carapace. Loggerhead turtles dwell in coastal bays and shallow seas, which is appropriate given their environment. They like tropical temps and seas and may be found in every tropical ocean.
- Green Turtle – The tint of the green fats discovered under its shell gave rise to the turtle’s name. Green turtles have a smooth carapace with no ridges. This turtle has an oval-shaped body that is flatter than the bodies of other turtles in its family. Read this article, Green Sea Turtle Facts for Kids, to know some amazing facts about green turtles.
- Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle – Kemp’s Ridley is a well-known species of small aquatic turtles. They are triangular in shape and possess a moderate head. Adults have a dark grey-green carapace with a white or yellowish plastron. The Kemp’s Ridley turtle’s natural habitat is on the Caribbean coasts of Northern Mexico.
- Flatback Turtle – Flatback turtles are among the turtles that do not grow to be very large. They have a flat body, as the name implies. Flatback turtles, like other turtles, eat invertebrates such as jellyfish and mollusks. They can only be found in Australia and the Pacific Ocean region of New Papua New Guinea.
- Olive Ridley Turtle – The olive-colored carapace of these tiny turtles gives them their name. These turtles, unlike their equivalents, are omnivores, implying they eat both marine insects or crustaceans and vegetation. Their breeding areas are located along the coastlines of Central America and India.
- Hawksbill Turtle – Another turtle in the tiny turtle family is the hawksbill. This painted turtle species, named after its head and hawk-like sharp beak, has a gorgeous shell that attracts traffickers. These turtles eat on coral reefs, sponges, shrimp, and squid with their razor-sharp beaks.
What are the major differences between a Turtle and a Tortoise?
The distinction between turtles and tortoises is easily misunderstood since both of these animal groups appear relatively similar on the surface. However, these creatures have distinct specializations that set them apart from one another.
The habitat and environment are some of the key differences between a tortoise and a turtle. Let us find out some more-
- A major difference lies in their shells. Turtles exhibit narrower, highly water-dynamic shells than tortoises, which have more convex and domed shells. Turtle shells are more streamlined, which helps in gliding on water surfaces.
- One easy way to distinguish a turtle from a tortoise is to examine their legs and feet. Tortoises have chunky elephantine legs to carry their weight around on land, while Turtle feet are either webbed with long claws or are true flippers instead to help in swimming.
- To further differentiate tortoises from turtles, it’s important to understand their eating habits. Tortoises are herbivores by origin, whereas turtles are omnivores.
- A difference that many people fail to notice is scute shedding. Turtles are known to bask in the sun and shed scutes in order to remove old growth. However, this phenomenon is absent in tortoises.
- When it comes to lifestyle, one significant distinction is that tortoises invest the majority of their lifetime on land, but turtles are evolved for a life well lived in water.
Yes, they are reptiles and belong to the ‘Testudines’ class. Turtles are cold-blooded animals that have a shell or carapace which protects them from predators.
They feed on plants and insects, worms, snails, and smaller fishes.
Provided that the turtle receives an ample amount of water and sunlight, it can live up to 160 days or approx. 5.4 months without food.
No, turtles cannot poop through their mouths.
A group of turtles is called a Bale.
A baby turtle is called a ‘hatchling.’
Turtles have exceptional eyesight that enables them to see clearly in low light conditions. This is especially crucial during the night.
Contrary to what many people believe, turtles are not deaf. Their internal ear bones are covered with a thin membrane of skin that helps them receive low-frequency sounds and vibrations.
Many experts believe that a turtle’s shell limits its range of motion, locomotion speed, and flexibility. Thus, turtles move slowly due to their shell.
The number of toes in a turtle differs from species to species. While a box turtle may have 3 toes on its hind feet, others usually possess 4-5 toes.
Turtles are the only reptiles with bony endoskeletons. A turtle’s shell is indeed a segment of its skeleton, consisting of almost 50 bones.
A turtle’s shell is made up of bone and cartilage and comprises a top called a carapace, and a bottom called a plastron. The carapace and plastron are normally joined along the body’s sides, forming a solid skeletal box.
Turtles can, in fact, feel their shell. This is due to the presence of nerve endings in their shell.
It is near impossible for a turtle to come out of its shell since its body is entirely attached to the shell.
One of the things turtles are well-known for is their long lifespans. The leatherback turtle has a life expectancy of roughly 150 years.
You may estimate the turtle’s age by counting the rings on its scute. The scutes are the plates that make up the turtle’s carapace (shell). Divide the number of rings by two to get the turtle’s age.
The map turtles have the shortest life span of 15-25 years. On the other hand, the leatherback turtles have the longest average life span of roughly 150 years.
A turtle’s development is not always linear. This indicates that a turtle will grow the most in its first four years of existence. They will continue to develop for a few more years after they reach the age of four, although at a considerably slower rate.
Turtles are known to exist since the era of the dinosaurs, and they’re probably 230 million years old.
Turtles love to play with the objects around them, such as pebbles and empty shells. They are also fond of digging.
As the turtles mature, their hard shells protect them from predator attacks, making them harder to consume. Another Defense mechanism used by turtles is their superior swimming ability.
A turtle’s poop is definitely harmful but not toxic. This is due to the presence of Salmonella bacteria, the microbe known to cause typhoid.
Turtles have intuitive as well as acquired intelligence. They’re smart enough to know when a possible prey is close. Their acquired knowledge is what they learn from experience.
Unfortunately, several turtle species are on the verge of extinction! According to the IUCN, 129 of the world’s approximately 350 turtle and tortoise species are either endangered, vulnerable, or critically endangered.
Turtles are such amazing creatures, and they deserve to be treated with the utmost respect and care. Keep these 11 amazing turtle facts for kids in mind while you and your child learn about these unique creatures, and you’ll develop a strong appreciation for them.
The world of turtles is one that’s rich in both beauty and mystery – one that will reveal itself more as you explore together. And don’t forget, turtles are some of our planet’s oldest still-living creatures!