Today at Light Future Art, we’re going to share some fun facts about tortoises. There may be some facts in here that will surprise you!
1. Are tortoises turtles? Technically, yes. Tortoises refer to terrestrial turtles, those who can’t swim. There are some exceptions but for the most part, turtles can swim. Tortoises can’t.
2. Tortoises are herbivores. They typically eat succulents, leaves, and shrubs. Tortoises are excellent at extracting every drop of water from their food and, in dry areas or times of drought, expel almost no water from their bodies whatsoever.
3. You can tell the native environment of a tortoise species by looking at how light or dark their shell is. The lighter the shell, the hotter the native environment of that species. The lightest tortoise species is the light tan sulcata from the Sahara Desert.
4. It isn’t often that you’ll see tortoises in a group, called a creep. They like to be solitary animals. A mother diligently guards her nest — until the young turtles hatch, that is. At that point, she returns to a reclusive lifestyle.
5. A tortoise’s shell is made of three parts: the carapace on the top, the plastron on the bottom, and the bridge that connects the carapace and the plastron. The tortoise’s skeleton is fused to the shell, meaning that they have both an internal skeleton and an exoskeleton.
6. A tortoise’s shell is made up of about 60 different bones. The scales on their carapaces are called scutes. Scutes are made of keratin, the same material as hair and nails.
7. Tortoises have nerve endings in their shells. This means that they can feel touches and injuries to their shells.
8. Tortoises smell with an organ on the roof of their mouth. This is called the Jacobson’s Organ. They smell by pumping their throats and circulating air around their nose and mouth. Unlike other reptiles, they don’t use their tongues to smell.
9. Tortoises can easily feel changes of vibration in water and land and can detect changes in water pressure. This alerts them of predators and can even help them locate food sources. They also have a good sense of smell.
10. It usually takes about three to four months for a tortoise nest of hatchlings to hatch. The hatchlings survive on the embryonic egg sac but are fully capable of eating solid food within a week. Most tortoises typically have a lifespan of 100 years, but some have been known to live to 150.
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