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Updated on June 22, 2013

What Are Turtles?

Turtles are reptiles that are part of the Testudines order. Turtles are the oldest reptiles in the world, and some of the earliest turtles date back to 215 million years ago, before snakes and lizards were first found. Turtles swim in the water, and even though they lay eggs on the surface and breath with lungs, most turtles live near water. In fact, some of the biggest turtles are aquatic. Turtles are fascinating reptiles that have many shocking facts. Turtles are one of my favorite animals, so I decided to create this page about them.

5 Interesting Facts About Turtles

  • Turtles can't move out of their shells like hermit crabs. A turtle's shell is the turtle's actual bone.
  • Female turtles abandon their young after they lay their eggs. However, female turtles also hide their eggs so that no predator can get an easy meal.
  • When you think of a turtle, you would think it is slow especially because of slow and steady wins the race. However, some turtles have outran humans (and these humans were by no means overweight).
  • The earliest turtles were discovered 215 million years ago which is before snakes and lizards.
  • Turtles breath with lungs, not gills.

Turtles as Pets?

Yes, it is possible. Turtles can be pets. These turtles are freshwater turtles because those species of turtle are generally small compared to having a really big turtle that could be bigger than you! However, a pet turtle cannot be too small either. It is illegal for anyone to sell turtles that are less than 4 inches, but 4 inch turtles can be sold for educational purposes.

What Do Turtles Eat?

A turtles diet consists on the organisms around it, so every turtle has a different diet based on its habitat. Wild turtles usually eat plants such as the one in this picture. Turtles are omnivores, so they may also eat small insects, snails, worms, and fish. A turtle's diet doesn't stop there because some turtles act as decomposers and eat the dead remains of marine animals. Protein is very important for a turtles growth, so a turtle doesn't eat plants until it matures. Then, the turtle will mainly eat plants, but it will still eat other organisms as well.

What Should My Pet Turtle Eat?

You cannot give your pet turtle food until you identify your pet turtle's age and species. Most turtles start out as carnivores, but tend to become omnivores as they age. The best meals for a turtle are protein, cooked meals, insects, cooked eggs, and leafy vegetables. Some turtles will even eat flowers and fruit.

What My Pet Turtle Should Not Eat

Turtles cannot properly digest lactose, so NEVER give your turtle dairy products and never give it processed food, such as corn. Basically, turtles prefer whole, dairy free foods. If you know the age and species of your pet turtle, then it may be easier to feed.

More Facts About Turtles

  • Turtles can be found in every continent except Antarctica.
  • There are over 300 species of turtle, and some such as the Musk Turtle release an odor when startled.
  • Many turtles are expert climbers and can outrun humans.
  • Sea Turtles can swim 35 mph.
  • Several turtle species can live to be over 100 years old which is older than the average human.

Sound Off Now! - Do you like turtles

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    • JohannDog profile image

      Johann The Dog 

      6 years ago from Northeast Georgia

      We find turtles a lot around our cabin. They always make me bark!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I was just watching a wildlife show and a predator was after a momma turtles eggs, I guess they can get pretty excited because she actually jumped toward the predator in a counter attack to run him off. I think I'd run off if a turtle jumped toward me for sure! I'm wondering if you've thought about sneaking some turtle quizzes in here...I would have taken them!

    • Hairdresser007 profile image

      James Jordan 

      6 years ago from Burbank, CA

      I had a pet for 32 years. I inherited her from a neighbor kid when I was a teen. She passed away at then end of last year. It broke my heart. She had been a part of my life for so long. She was a great pet and one day I want to have a turtle commune when I retire!


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