Hermann’s Tortoise

The Hermann’s Tortoise (Testudo hermanni) is a small to medium-sized reptile in the Testudinoidea family of land chelonians. It is related to the Greek Tortoise (Testudo graeca). 

The Hermann’s Tortoise has a slightly domed, rounded shell, called a carapace. The carapace is black and pale-yellow with markings, but the colour fades with age, and becomes grey or straw-coloured. Its underbelly shell, called a plastron, is creamy-beige. It has no teeth, but it has a strong, short beak. It has scaly brownish-grey, stumpy legs with five claws. Its back legs are thicker than its front legs. The tip of its tail has a spur (a horny, short spike). 

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Spider Tortoise

The Spider Tortoise (Pyxis arachnoides) is a reptile in the Testudinidae family. It is named after the pattern on its shell. 

The Spider Tortoise has a web-like pattern of yellow lines on its dark-brown carapace (upper shell). It has a dark head with yellow spots. It has a yellow, semi-hinged underbelly – the under shell is called a plastron. It pulls its head into its shell for protection. Its legs and tail are brown. 

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Geoffroy’s Side-Necked Turtle

The Geoffroy’s Side-Necked Turtle (Phrynops geoffroanus) is a freshwater aquatic reptile in the Chelidae family of long-necked turtles. It is a chelonian or a chelid. Chelonians include turtles, tortoises, and terrapins. It is also known as the Geoffroy’s Toadhead Turtle. 

The Geoffroy’s Side-Necked Turtle is black to dark-grey. Its carapace (top shell) is slightly domed. Its tail and legs are grey-brown, and its plastron underbelly (bottom shell) is yellowish. Instead of its neck sticking in and out, it has a side-necked position where it places its head sideways in its shell. It has four sharp claws on its feet. 

The Geoffroy’s Side-Necked Turtle does not have a hinged plastron, so it has to put its head sideways under its shell. But this means that it has a strong neck. When it is upside down, it can flick its muscular neck to right itself – to turn itself the right way up. Other terrapins and tortoises are unable to do this. 

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Great Padloper

The Great Padloper (Homopus femoralis) is a small chelonian reptile in the Testudinidae family of land tortoises.

The Great Padloper Tortoise has a brown domed-shaped shell called a carapace, although it can be reddish-brown or olive-brown. It has darker markings bordering its scutes (scales). As it ages, the dark markings often become thin white lines. The top part of the carapace is slightly flattened. Its pale cream bottom shell is called a plastron. It has a small head and brown eyes. It has four toes on its thick, stumpy legs. 

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Russian Tortoise

The Russian Tortoise (Agrionemys horsfieldii) is a small chelonian reptile in the Testudinidae family. It is also known as the Afghan Tortoise, the Central Asian Tortoise, Horsfield’s Tortoise, the Steppe Tortoise, or the Four-Clawed Tortoise.

The Russian Tortoise can be various colours, but it usually has a brown or grey-black top dome-shaped shell, called a carapace. It has faded yellow-beige markings between its scutes (scales). It has a paler bottom shell, called a plastron. Its body is straw-yellow and brown. It has a small head and brown eyes. It has four toes on its thick, stumpy legs. 

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Red-Footed Tortoise

The Red-Footed Tortoise (Chelonoidis carbonarius) is a medium-sized land chelonian reptile. 

The Red-Footed Tortoise has a dark-coloured, oval-shaped, high-domed shell, called a carapace. The carapace has a lighter patch in the middle of each scute (scale). The undershell, called the plastron, is pale. It has pale-yellow to dark-red scales on its head and neck, whith males having more coloured scales. It has a small head with large black eyes. Its upper jaw is slightly hooked, and it has 15-20 teeth. It has stumpy, thick, short legs with four claws on its front legs and five claws on its back legs.

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Matamata Turtle

The Matamata Turtle (Chelus fimbriata) is a large, freshwater reptile. 

The Matamata Turtle has a brown or black upper shell, called a carapace, that looks like the bark of a tree. Its lower shell, called the plastron, is creamy-yellow or brown, narrow, and without a hinge. 

It has a large, triangular-shaped, flattened grey-brown head, with spiky, ridged scales called tubercles. It has flaps of loose skin. It has a horn-like structure on its head and a long, tubular snout (nose). There are three barbels (similar to thick whiskers) on its chin and another four barbels at its upper jaw. Its neck, tail, and legs are grey-brown. Its feet have five webbed claws to enable it to walk on land, dig and swim. 

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Snapping Turtle

The Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentine) is a freshwater, aquatic reptile. It is also known as the Snapper or the Common Snapping Turtle. 

The Snapping Turtle has powerful beak-like jaws. It has a slightly domed, serrated-edged (saw-toothed) upper shell, called a carapace. The lower shell, called the plastron, is narrower than the upper shell. It has a long tail – as long as the upper shell – and a long, snake-like neck. It is mostly greyish-brown. It has stumpy legs with claws, and webbing between the claws, which enable it to walk on land and swim in water. It does not have flippers like the sea turtle. 

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Annam Leaf Turtle

The Annam Leaf Turtle (Mauremys annamensis) is a small, rare reptile in the chelonian family of tortoises, turtles, and terrapins. It is also known as the Vietnamese Pond Turtle. It is actually a terrapin, and not a turtle, because it does not have flippers. It lives some of the time on land and some of the time in water. It has webbed toes (instead of flippers) to enable it to swim in water and walk on land.

The Annam Leaf Turtle has a dark-brown flattish carapace (upper shell) and a yellow-orange plastron (lower shell) with a black blotch on each scale. The scale is called a scute. It has a wide head with a pale-yellow stripe from its nostrils, through its eyes, and along its neck.

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Chinese Softshell Turtle

The Chinese Softshell Turtle (Pelodiscus sinensis) is a freshwater chelonian and a reptile. It is called softshell because its shell does not have scales – instead, its shell is leathery and flexible, which enables it to move more easily at the bottom of muddy lakes.

The Chinese Softshell Turtle has an olive-green upper shell, called a carapace. Its lower shell, called a plastron, is orange-red. Its legs and head are olive-green. It has dark flecks on its head and dark lines from its eyes. Its throat is mottled. It has a long snout (nose) and a short tail. It has flipper feet to enable it to swim in water.

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Colchis Pond Terrapin

The Colchis Pond Terrapin (Emys orbicularis colchica) is a semi-aquatic freshwater chelonian, and a reptile.

The Colchis Pond Terrapin has a light-brown and dark-brown top shell, called a carapace, with a distinctive pattern and a slight dome. Its bottom shell, called a plastron, is beige to light-brown. It has an oval-shaped head with large dark eyes. Its feet have claws with webbing in between to enable it to walk on land and swim in water.

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Black Spotted Turtle

The Black Spotted Turtle (Geoclemys hamiltonii) is a freshwater chelonian, and a reptile. It is also called the Black Pond Turtle or the Indian Spotted Turtle.

The Black Spotted Turtle is mainly black with small yellowish spots and streaks. Its upper shell, called a carapace, is domed. Its lower shell, called a plastron, is dark-coloured with creamy-yellow spots. It has a large head, with a short nose. It has webbed feet with claws. It has a very short tail.

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Roti Island Snake-Necked Turtle

The Roti Island Snake-Necked Turtle (Chelodina mccordi) is a freshwater chelonian reptile. It is also known as McCord’s Snakeneck Turtle.

The Roti Island Snake-Necked Turtle has a pale grey-brown slightly-domed carapace (upper shell) and a pale buff-white plastron (lower underbelly shell). Its neck is very long – about the same size as its shell – and is dark-brown on the upperparts and whitish on the underparts. It has webbed feet with sharp claws. It has dark eyes.

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African Helmeted Terrapin

The African Helmeted Terrapin (Pelomedusa subrufa) is also known as the Marsh Terrapin, the Crocodile Terrapin, or the African Side-Necked Terrapin. It is a semi-aquatic reptile from Africa, like tortoises and turtles – a chelonian.

The African Helmeted Terrapin looks like a helmet. Instead of its neck sticking in and out, it has a side-necked position where it places its head sideways in its shell. It black or brown shell (carapace) is slightly domed. Its tail and legs are grey-brown, and its underbelly is yellowish. The male has a long thick tail. The female has a shorter tail.

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Pancake Tortoise

The Pancake Tortoise (Malacochersus tornieri) is a flat-shelled tortoise from southern Kenya and northern Tanzania in east Africa. It is a reptile – a chelonian.

The Pancake Tortoise has a brown carapace (upper shell) with geometric patterns and a pale-yellow plastron (lower shell). The top shell is not domed like other tortoises. It is flat, thin, and flexible. Its head, legs, and tail are brown.

It is a fast mover – faster than the larger, domed tortoises. It is a good climber, and can climb over rocky ground. For protection against predators, it hides in crevices and gaps in rocky areas.

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Red-Eared Slider

The Red-Eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) is also called the Red-Eared Terrapin. It is a semi-aquatic chelonian, living in water and also on land. A chelonian is a reptile that is a turtle, tortoise or terrapin.

The Red-Eared Slider has a small red stripe around its ears. Its carapace (upper shell) is about 20 centimetres (8 inches) in length, and is oval-shaped and flat on top. The carapace changes colour, but it is mostly black. Its plastron (under shell) is light yellow with dark markings. It has a green-black head, legs, and tail.

It has partially webbed-feet that enable it to swim and walk on land. Its claws are very sharp, and used for digging.

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How can you tell a male from a female tortoise?

A tortoise is a land reptile with an exoskeleton, which is a hard shell.

In fact, there is a hard shell on the top (called a carapace) and a hard shell underneath (called a plastron).

How can you tell a male tortoise from a female tortoise? One way to tell the difference between a male and a female tortoise is to turn it around and look at the plastron – the underbelly shell.

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