Tortoises vs. Turtles

Mr. Amato and Venus the tortoiseVenus, Mr. Amato’s pet, is a desert tortoise. My mother had three turtles (Shilly, Shally, and Shelly) when she was my age. They were painted turtles.

What’s the difference?

It’s actually really simple. Basically, turtles live in or around water. Tortoises live on land. And because turtles need to swim, they have webbed feet and a streamlined shell. Tortoises, on the other hand, have stubby feet with claws for digging because they spend most of their lives in underground burrows. They also have heavier, dome-shaped shells which they use as protection from predators like ravens, coyotes, and Big Foot. (Just kidding about Big Foot.) Fire ants are one of their enemies, however.

Tortoises are plant eaters (herbivores). Turtles eat everything (omnivores).

Common Snapping Turtle
Common Snapping Turtle

Turtles and tortoises have been on the Earth for 200 million years. Lots of reptiles did not last anywhere near that long. For example, dinosaurs died out about 65 million years ago.

Baby painted turtle
Baby painted turtle

The desert tortoise can go for a really long time without water…kind of like a camel. How do they do it…especially because they live hot, dry climates?

Don’t get grossed out, but they have a huge bladder that stores urine, and when they can’t find water, they reabsorb the water in their urine and pee out a white paste. And if you scare one, it might pee on you. You might even get pasted! Yuk.

Desert tortoise
Desert tortoise

Turtles and tortoises live a really long time. Some tortoises live for almost 200 years. Mr. Amato’s says his tortoise is in more than 40. He said he is more than 40, too. He told me he is going to keep Venus forever.

I guess Mr. Amato plans to live to be 200!

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Comments from my Readers & Friends

  1. i like turtles and im gonna copy them! im gonna be 2000!!!!!! i like your books

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