Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Difference between tortoises and turtles

Difference between tortoises and turtles
A STOMPer shares with us these photos of tortoises and turtles taken at the Chinese Garden.

He says there is a shop there thats sells tortoises and turtles made of stone and porcelain.

What's the difference between a tortoise and a turtle?

"A tortoise is a land creature and is a vegetarian. It is usually kept as a pet. A turtle is a sea creature and usually eats fish and vegetables," explains the STOMPer.

Difference between tortoises and turtles
Difference between tortoises and turtles
Difference between tortoises and turtles
Difference between tortoises and turtles
Difference between tortoises and turtles

Don't laugh, some people don't know the difference between a turtle and a tortoise.

The STOMPer's explanation is still rather inaccurate; while it is true that tortoises are wholly terrestrial, and that they are predominantly vegetarian, many species can and will consume animal protein, whether it's in the form of slugs and earthworms, or even carrion.

Likewise, the term 'turtle' does not only refer to the marine species, but is also used to refer to the semi-aquatic and aquatic freshwater species. Saying that their diet consists of 'fish and vegetables' is a bit of an overgeneralisation, since there are turtle species which specialise on certain types of food, and turtle diets can vary from species to species; there are some that are almost wholly carnivorous, while there are others that feed largely on plant matter.

I recently talked about the differences between turtles, tortoises and terrapins over at this blog post.

The photos were taken at the Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum, an extremely interesting and affordable place to visit. It does showcase a wide variety of turtle species from all over the world, although it has been besieged from time to time by thieves attempting to steal some of the reptiles. Interestingly enough, it seems that only tortoises are targeted; I would love to see the thieves try to get away with the snapping turtles. Unfortunately, the fact is that turtles feature heavily in the global exotic pet trade, and a significant proportion of such trade is illegal.

Anyway, I'm going to take a shot at identifying the turtle and tortoise species in the photos above:

1) Indian star tortoise (Geochelone elegans);
2) Red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans);
3) Snake-necked turtle (Chelodina sp.);
4) Chinese stripe-necked turtle (Ocadia sinensis);
5) Red-footed tortoise (Geochelone carbonaria);

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