Chelonians – hidden neck or side neck?

Tortoises and turtles are called Chelonia.

In the order Testudines (tortoise-like or turtle-like), there are two suborders: Cryptodira (hidden neck) and Pleurodira (side neck).

Cryptodira means that the chelonians pull their neck right into their shell—most chelonians are in this category. Their necks go in and out.

Pleurodira means that the chelonians tuck their neck sideways under their shell.

Continue reading “Chelonians – hidden neck or side neck?”

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.

Continue reading “How can you tell a male from a female tortoise?”

Tortoises and Turtles: Flat shell or domed shell?

What is the difference between flat-shelled or dome-shelled tortoises and turtles?

The tortoise has a domed shell. The tortoise lives on land. The domed shell is heavy and acts like a shield or armour to protect them from predators.

The turtle has a flat shell. The turtle lives in water. Flat shells are lighter and better for swimming in water.

The terrapin has a flat shell. The terrapin lives partly on land and partly in the water.

Continue reading “Tortoises and Turtles: Flat shell or domed shell?”