Today is World Turtle Day! It was founded by American Tortoise Rescue fourteen years ago to celebrate turtles and tortoises of all kinds. We kind of have a soft spot for the hard-shelled creatures here at TeeTurtle, so here are some fun facts we wanted to share about our favorite animals!
- Turtles have existed in some form for around 210 million years, making them the oldest species of reptile. They're older than dinosaurs!
- Turtles have a hard beak instead of teeth.
- Turtles can do without oxygen for several hours. Some breeds can live without breathing for over a day, or even several months at the right temperature.
- Sea turtles and many other breeds have their sex determined by environment temperature. Eggs in a warm place will be female, eggs in a cool place will be male.
- The western painted turtle can freeze solid, and as long as its protective shell is intact and healthy, can thaw out just fine when the weather warms up.
- The shell on a turtle's back is called the carapace, the shell on their stomach is the pastron.
- The "shoulders" of turtles connect to the inside of their rib cage.
- The box turtle is so named because their pastron is hinged and when they pull in their head and and legs their shells close up like a box.
- The only turtles that pull their heads all the way straight into their shells are those from the Northern Hemisphere. Southern Hemisphere turtles squish their head to one side of their shell and look at you with one eye.
- In 1968, the Soviet Union sent a pair of tortoises into space to test conditions for a future lunar expedition.
- The alligator snapping turtle has a growth on its tongue that looks like a worm when they wiggle their tongue -- that's how it lures in its fishy prey.
- Turtles don't have vocal cords but they can make sounds by forcing air out of their lungs.
- Land turtles have domed shells to make it harder for predators to grab them in their teeth, and aquatic turtles have flatter shells so they can swim faster.
- Turtles don't hear well but they do have solid color perception and seem to prefer shades of red, orange, and yellow. When they see an object in their habitat in one of those colors, they go investigate to see if it's a tasty snack! They love dandelions and strawberries.
Thanks to Animal Planet, The LA Times, and Doctors Foster and Smith for helping us learn, and Reid Faylor for making us laugh with his "absolutely 100% true" turtle facts. Did you know turtles can hear you scream in space?? Wow.