Difference Between a Turtle and Tortoise (Turtle vs Tortoise)

Turtles, as well as tortoises both, are reptiles of the family of Testudines however, they are indifferent classification families. The main difference between a Tortoise and a Turtle Tortoise can be seen in the fact that tortoises reside on the ground while turtles are in the water a few or all the time.

The tortoises’ bodies and turtles are protected by shells, the top part is called the carapace and the lower part is referred to as the plastron. The plastron and carapace are connected by a bridge. This implies that although the limbs and head of turtles or tortoises turtle or tortoise may be separated from the shell the body itself cannot be completely separated from the shell. The reptiles are typically shy and shy in their natural habitat.

Difference Between a Turtle and Tortoise
Difference Between a Turtle and Tortoise

What is a turtle?

Tortoises and turtles are both reptiles belonging to the family of Testudines. The Testudines order is composed of terrestrial and aquatic species with their trunk enclosed within the shell. For specifics, that shell is made up of a dorsal carapace, also known as a shell cover–and a ventral plastron (the portion that is the bottom that is the bottom of the shell). The design of the shell, which house the skeleton distinctive to turtles. Turtles are unable to remove their shells or exchange one shell to get another.

The term “turtle” dates back to the period 1625-35. It is a variant of French torture. It is itself taken from the Latin term for the animal called Tortuga.

For the correct usage of the word to use the word correctly, you could use the phrase:

  • Her family calls her “The Turtle” because she tends to retreat into”her “shell” instead of getting to know other people.
  • Of all of the animals he was raised with, his most beloved pet was his turtle Shelly whose pattern of shells inspired his work.

Because turtle and the order Testudines refers to reptiles with bodies that are protected by the shell, it’s no surprise that there are a variety of species of turtles, 356 to be precise. The types of turtles are the sea turtle, the box turtle snapping, and the green turtle.

But the aquatic turtle can be distinct from a terrestrial turtle also known as a tortoise.

What is a tortoise?

The term tortoise is a term that refers to the terrestrial tortoise or a slow-moving individual. This kind of turtle belongs to the family of Testudinidae which generally is found on land.

The tortoise was first to record recorded in English in the period 1350-140. It was a variation of the words tortoise, tortuse, and tortuce. The term tortoise could be closely related to the Latin meaning of “twisted” (tortus). This Latin term testudo originates directly from the word testa(“shell”).

It is possible to use the word as follows:

  • After Tamara broke her leg she was like a tortoise and could only move her crutches at a slow speed.
  • When his family was in his desert home, Lucas was able to spot the tortoise taking a bite of Cactus.
  • The glasses she chose were tortoiseshell to honor her favorite reptile, the tortoise.

How do you Difference Between a Turtle and Tortoise?

While tortoises are a kind of turtle and are part of the family of Testudines however, they do differ from the aquatic turtles who live in the sea. Primarily the terrestrial tortoises (also known as tortoises are land-based animals that eat plants and usually live in dry, hot areas. There are physical differences too, according to the San Diego Zoo, which makes it easier to differentiate them.

To accommodate their swimming time, turtles have webbed feet. Certain turtles have flippers, and they spend their entire life swimming, while others prefer to hang out on the rocks, shores, or beaches occasionally and bury themselves in the mud when they feel cold.

In contrast to webbed feet, tortoises have flat feet that resemble stumps. They also help move on the ground. They are found in hot and dry environments and they even consume Cactus. To stay out of scorching sun rays, they construct burrows and go into the earth. The majority of tortoises have shells that are taller and have more of a domed-shaped shape.

Comparison chart ( Turtle vs Tortoise)

Definition The Tortoise is a reptile of the Chelonian family that lives on the land. The Turtle reptile belongs to the Chelonian family and is well-suited to living in waters.
Distribution Mostly found throughout Asia and Africa however some species are found in the Americas too. Africa, America.
The shape of the shell Most dome-shaped shells are large (with bumps at the top of some species). Shells that are mostly flat and streamlined.
The weight of the shell The shells are heavier. Usually, lightweight shells.
Limbs Feet are long and strong and have bent knees. Webbed feet with claws that are long.
Diet The majority are herbivores. However certain species prefer live food. Eats vegetables, fruits leaves, meat, and leafy plants They are also omnivores, which is why they eat meat and fruits.
Birth Tortoise chicks leave their nest in their mother’s burrow as soon as they are born. Turtle hatchlings are left in their nests in their nests on their own for between 90 and 120 days.
Lifespan 80-150 years. The longest Tortoise that lives is 326 years. 20-40 years. The oldest was 86.
Kingdom Animalia Animalia
Phylum Chordata Chordata
Class Reptilia Reptilia
Order Testudines (a.k.a., Chelonii) Testudines (a.k.a., Chelonii)
Family Testudinidae Many families, including Carettochelyidae (pig-nosed turtle), Dermatemydidae (Central American river turtles), Emydidae (pond/water turtles), and many more.

Habitat Difference Between a Turtle and Tortoise

Turtles spend some or the majority of their lives in water, whereas tortoises reside on the land. Turtles, as well as tortoises, bury their eggs in the soil. They will create a burrow and lay two to 12 eggs in it. The eggs that hatch will stay inside the egg for between 90 to 120 days before incubating independently. When the process of incubation is completed, they begin digging into the egg to reach the surface. Tortoise mothers offer protection to the hatchlings over about 80 days. After that, they can survive by themselves, however, turtle hatchlings are completely on their own from birth.

Difference Between a Turtle and Tortoise
Difference Between a Turtle and Tortoise

Differences in Physical Characteristics

The tortoise is a dome-shaped shell as well with strong and short feet. The legs are bent, instead of being straight and are directly beneath the body. The turtle features a flat sleek shell, and limbs that are very similar to the tortoise’s. However, the feet of the turtle are webbed, and they have long claws, which give a solid grip on floating logs and aid in climbing over the banks of rivers. Some turtles could even sport flippers as is the case with the porcine-nosed turtle.

Shell Difference Between a Turtle and Tortoise

The shells that protect the body of reptiles are extremely crucial as they allow researchers to get an idea of how the reptiles live. Since turtles prefer living in water their shells of the turtle is smooth and flat to facilitate diving and swimming, whereas the tortoise’s shell who is a land animal is quite massive and dome-shaped to offer protection against predators. Additionally, the tortoise’s shell is extremely heavy when compared with the turtle’s shell which is lighter to prevent sinking and improve the speed of swimming.

Leg and foot shapes

A simple way to distinguish the difference between a tortoise and a turtle is to examine the feet and legs.

Tortoises’ feet are cushioned and stumpy with horned, scaly feet that look a bit like the tiny feet of an elephant. The elephantine-sized legs of their feet aid tortoises in carrying their weight on the ground.

Turtle feet are quite different they are either webbed with long claws to enable them to grasp floating objects and climb into and out of the water or, in the case of aquatic turtles, they have flippers, which are more than feet.

The box turtles are the only exception to this role and are not equipped with flippers or feet with webbed feet.

Differences in Diet

Both turtles and tortoises require lots of minerals and nutrients to ensure the healthy growth of their shells They have also evolved to have distinct diets.

Tortoises are mostly herbivores with their diet changing based on the species and age. They generally have a broad diet that covers large distances eating leaves, fruits, weeds, grasses, and other vegetables as they encounter them.

The turtle is an omnivore, eating the same range of plants as tortoises and supplementing their diet with protein sources that range from insects and worms to small fish and jellyfish.

Reproduction of Turtles against. Tortoises

The eggs of a turtle are a little leathery and soft like the eggs made by other reptiles. The turtle hatchlings remain in their nests by themselves for 90 to 120 days.

Tortoises females dig burrows into which they lay between two to twelve eggs. The hatchlings require between 90 and 120 days to develop inside the eggs that are sized like ping-pong balls.

turtle and tortoise
turtle and tortoise


The turtles shed their scutes to take out the old growth and create space for new scutes to sprout beneath. One of the reasons why they soak under the sun’s rays is that they dry out their scutes and aid in helping to break them up. If this doesn’t accomplish the trick, turtles may occasionally be found rubbing their shells onto the rocks or trees to try to remove the scutes.

However, tortoises do not shed any of their shells. Keratin grows continuously without shedding, pushing upwards old growth, and giving the shell a more layered appearance. It’s believed that this compounded increase aids in boosting the size of their shells, which defend them from predators.

Lifespan Difference Between a Turtle and Tortoise

Tortoises live the same as humans, ranging from 60 to 80 years old. However, certain species have been reported to be around 150 years old. The longest tortoise-specific life period was 188 years.

The average length of life of a turtle is between 20 and 40 years, and sea turtles can live 60 to 70 years of age, which is roughly 40 to 50 years needed for them to reach the age of maturity.

Although it has been reported that tortoises lived for more than 200 years while in captivity confirmation of such claims has proved difficult. Many tortoises will live to 100 years while in captivity however, living past that requires a carefully controlled and safe environment.

As Pets

Both are housed as pets, but smaller turtles are more often owned. They are a lot simpler to take care of and are less expensive to purchase. They have owners that must be prepared and willing to maintain a long commitment. Therefore, neither of them is suggested for a pet in a lot of situations.

Geographical Distribution

Tortoises can be found in Asia and Africa and turtles are present within Africa in both Africa and America. The majority of turtles live in semi-tropical and tropical conditions, which are like those favored by lizards in general since they require warmer temperatures to keep their bodies heat. Some turtles have been known to hibernate in winter, mostly on the banks of rivers. They aren’t famous to hibernate, because their habitats are generally warm, although certain species can greatly restrict their metabolism when there is very little or no food and water.

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