According to Sheila Madrak, a San Diego-based wildlife biologist ‘Turtle’ is the umbrella word for all 200 species, including turtles, tortoises and terrapins of the Testudines group.
There are two distinct characteristics of all turtles: a shell fused with their ribs and vertebrae, and a pelvic girdle within their rib cage. What gives turtles their characteristic lumbering walk is this “compressed anatomical structure.”
Turtles can be terrestrial, aquatic, or even semi-aquatic. Tortoises are a kind of turtles that live on land and aren’t equipped for water.
Turtles and Tortoises are both reptiles of the order of Testudines but in separate classification families. The most significant difference between the two is that the turtles live on land, while the turtles live some or almost all of the time in the sea.
The bodies of Turtles and Tortoises are both protected by a shell, the upper part of which is called a carapace, the lower part of which is called a plastron.
The carapace and the plastron are connected to the bridge, which ensures that while the head and limbs of the tortoise or tortoise may be separated from the shell, the whole body can never be fully removed from the shell.
In general, these reptiles are reclusive and shy in nature.
Turtles vs Tortoise: What is the difference in habitats
Turtles live in the water some or most of the time, while tortoises live on the ground. Both Turtles and Tortoises lay eggs on the ground.
The mother will dig a burrow and lay two to twelve eggs there. Future hatchlings will remain inside the egg for 90 to 120 days, incubating on their own. When the incubation process has been completed, they dig their way to the surface.
Tortoise mothers have been providing protection for the hatchlings for about 80 days, after which they live on their own, but turtle hatchlings have been on their own since birth.
Turtles vs Tortoise: What is the difference in physical characteristics
A tortoise has a dome-shaped shell and a short, robust leg. Its legs are bent instead of straight under the body.
The turtle has a flat, smooth shell and limbs that are somewhat similar to the tortoise’s, except the turtle’s legs are wedge-shaped and have long claws that provide a good grip on floating logs and help the reptile scale the river banks. Some turtles can also have pinballs, as is the case with a pig-nosed turtle.
Turtles usually tend to live in water, the shell of a turtle is smooth and streamlined to help them swim and dive, while the shell of a tortoise living on land is very wide and dome-shaped to shield it from predators.
Also, the shell of the tortoise is very thick compared to the shell of the tortoise, which is lighter to prevent sinking and improve the speed of swimming.
Turtles vs Tortoise: What is the difference in Diet
Most land-based turtles are herbivores, while turtles can be herbivores and carnivores.
Turtles vs Tortoise: What is the difference in Reproduction
The turtle eggs are somewhat soft and leather-like, similar to the eggs formed by other reptiles. Turtle hatchlings remain in their nests on their own for 90-120 days.
Female tortoises dig burrows in which they lay between 2 and 12 eggs. Hatchlings take approximately 90-120 days to incubate eggs of a ping-pong-ball size.
Turtles vs Tortoise: What is the difference in lifespan
Tortoises can live as long as humans, about 60-80 years, although some have been known to have lived for more than 150 years. The longest proven lifespan of tortoises was 188 years.
On the other hand, the common lifespan of the tortoise is approximately 20-40 years, while the average age of the sea turtles is between 60 and 70 years, with approximately 40 to 50 years of age needed to achieve maturity.
Although it is often claimed that tortoises have been in captivity for more than 200 years, it has been difficult to validate the authenticity of these reports. Most turtles can live in captivity for more than 100 years, but living beyond that age requires carefully managed, nurturing environments.
Turtles vs Tortoise: Can they be kept as pets?
Both are kept as pets, although small turtles are more commonly owned. Tortoises are actually easier to take care of, but more costly to own. Both need owners who are willing and able to sustain a very long commitment.
As such, in many cases, neither is recommended as a pet.
Turtles vs Tortoise: What is the difference in Geographic Distribution
Tortoises are mainly found in Asia and Africa, while tortoises are found in Africa and America.
Turtles are mostly found in tropical and semi-tropical climates, close to those favoured by most lizards, as they need warmer external temperatures to sustain proper body warmth.
However, some tortoises are known to hibernate in colder weather, usually along the banks of the river.
Tortoises are not known for hibernation because their habitats are almost fully warm, although some species may dramatically reduce their metabolism during periods of little to no food or water.