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Tortoises and Turtles are both reptiles from the order of Testudines, but in different classification families.
Sea turtles are well-adapted for swimming in the water, but move poorly on land due to their flippers which are long and paddle-like. The main physical characteristic of a turtle is its shell, but turtles also have some other, less obvious unique features, such as beaks and a skull that lacks open spaces where other reptiles possess them. The shell consists of highly modified ribs, vertebrae and other bones. There are seven species of sea turtle: green, hawksbill, leatherback, loggerhead, olive ridley, Kemp’s ridley and flatback. All but the olive ridley and flatback are found in Florida. Each species of adult male and female sea turtles are equal in size. The leatherback is the largest of all living sea turtles, reaching about 3.9 - 6.2 feet and 441 - 1,116 pounds. The Kemp's ridley and olive ridley are the smallest species of sea turtles, and reach about 22 - 30 inches and 66 - 110 pounds.
The African spurred tortoise ( Geochelone Sulcata) is the third largest species of tortoise in the world after the Galapagos and the Aldabra giant tortoise, and the largest of the African mainland tortoises. They live in hot, arid environments of the Sahelian type, occurring along the southern edge of the Sahara, from Senegal and Mauritania east through Mali, Niger, Chad, the Sudan, Ethiopia, along the Red Sea in Eritrea. These areas range from desert fringes to dry savannahs. Standing water is only around for limited amounts of time. Much of it's range has been disturbed by urbanisation, domestic animal grazing, and desertification. . Adults are usually 24 to 36 inches in length and can weigh 100 to 200 lbs. Their lifespan is 50-150 years.
The Aldabra Giant Tortoise (Geochelone gigantean), is one of the largest tortoises in the world. Aldabra giant tortoises are endemic to the Aldabra Atoll of the Seychelles, an archipelago nation in the western Indian Ocean about 930 miles east of Africa and northeast of Madagascar. Populations have also been introduced to Mauritius, Réunion, and islands in central Seychelles. The Aldabra giant tortoise's current IUCN conservation status is 'vulnerable' to extinction. Many giant tortoise species around the world have become extinct due to
- habitat loss
- introduced predatory species such as dogs, rats and pigs that eat tortoise eggs and babies.
Lifespan in the wild is unknown in Aldabra giant tortoises. The estimated lifespan is over 100 years, possibly up to 150 years. These tortoises tend to outlive researchers and no sufficient records have been kept. However, a positive correlation between age and carapace size has been reported. One zoo estimates the age of their tortoise to be 176 years old.
The Desert Tortoise is a species of Gopher Tortoise with a 9-15inch brown carapace and weighing between 8 and 15 pounds. The tortoise’s hind limbs are elephant-like, and the forelimbs are flattened with well-developed muscle. They are used for digging burrows. The females use their hind limbs to dig their nests. Desert tortoises inhabit semi-arid grasslands, gravelly desert washes, canyon bottoms and rocky hillsides. Their habitat includes the Mojave and Sonoran deserts of southeastern California, southern Nevada, south through Arizona into Mexico.
The Galapagos Tortoise is the largest living Tortoise. The Galapagos Tortoise are also known as the Galapagos Giant Tortoise. Galapagos Tortoises are found on the Galapagos Islands. They sport a massive size--some can even reach up to 5 feet in length. With an average lifespan of over 100 years, giant tortoises live out their lives dozing off in the sun for up to 16 hours a day. They will spend the other portions of their lives munching away on grass, leaves and cactus. Some species of giant tortoises are now endangered. They have a huge carapace (shell) which is an integral part of their skeleton. When they feel threatened they can draw their head and limbs inside and the shell acts as protection. There is a large amount of variation in the shape and size of their shell as it depends on which island the tortoise originates and the environment it has to adapt to. Those tortoises that are found on wetter islands that have an abundance of grass and vegetation near the ground have "dome shaped" shells, while those on dryer islands have a "saddle back" shell where the rim of the shell is raised above the neck allowing them to raise their head and eat from taller vegetation. They have a regular routine that is carried out each day and they use the same sleeping place and the same pathways to get around the island. Galapagos Tortoises are herbivores and they feed on a variety of grasses, leaves, cactus, vines and fruit. They obtain most of their moisture through their diet and can go for long periods without drinking.
The Gopher tortoise is a moderate-sized, terrestrial turtle that averages 9-11 inches (23-28 centimeters) long and have a long life span – 60 years or longer. This species of tortoise has a brown, gray, or tan upper shell (carapace), a yellow lower shell (plastron), and brown to dark gray skin (Florida Natural Areas Inventory 2001). Gopher tortoises have stumpy, elephant-like hind feet and flattened, shovel-like forelimbs that are used for digging burrows. Gopher tortoises are found in the southeastern Coastal Plain, from southern South Carolina, southwest to extreme southeastern Louisiana (Florida Natural Areas Inventory 2001). In Florida, tortoises occur in parts of all 67 counties, but prefer high, dry sandy habitats such as longleaf pine-xeric oak sandhills. They also may be found in scrub, dry hammocks, pine flatwoods, dry prairies, coastal grasslands and dunes, mixed hardwood-pine communities, and a variety of disturbed habitats, such as pastures.
Leopard tortoises are the fourth largest tortoise species in the world. Leopard tortoises (Psammobates pardalis) are endemic to Africa, and their geographic range extends from Sudan to Ethiopia and from Natal in eastern Africa to southern Angola and South Africa. They are also diffusely distributed throughout portion of southwestern Africa. They exhibit indeterminate growth and adults range in mass from 15 to 54 kg, with an average of 18 kg. Carapace length ranges from 30 to 70 cm, with an average carapace length of 45 cm. Females are often larger than males. It also is common for leopard tortoises to have moderate carapacial pyramiding, a shell deformity in which scutes exhibit pyramidal growth. Leopard tortoises differ from other members of the genus Geochelone due to their distinct shell markings. Base color of the carapace may be tan, yellow, or sometimes shades of dusty brown. The intensity of shell patterning varies. Blotches on the shell are most often black and are typically only present on juveniles. The head, feet, and tail vary in color but are usually tan to brown. Despite differences in appearance, the diet and habitat of tortoises in the genus Geochelone are usually similar. In the wild, adult leopard tortoises may live for up to 100 years. No records are available regarding captive individuals. However, typical lifespan for other species of Geochelone tortoises in captivity is approximately 30-50 years. Factors that may limit the lifespan of leopard tortoises include human impacts through the pet trade and male aggression during courtship and mating.
Mediterranean tortoises are native to arid regions in Mediterranean Europe, Africa, and parts of the Middle East. Most Testudo species are primarily herbivorous and they practice brumation (or hibernation) in the wild. Mediterranean tortoises are primarily herbivorous.
These Tortoises are known for their longevity and with proper care Testudo species can live well into their 50s, possibly to 100 years.
The Russian tortoise is known by a number of names including Horsfield’s tortoise and the Central Asian tortoise. The Russian tortoise is most commonly referred to by scientists as the Horsfield tortoise and is named after Thomas Horsfield an American naturalist. This tortoise species is a member of the reptilian class Testudines, suborder Cryptodira, family Testudinidae, genus Testudo and distinguished as being the Testudo horsfieldii.
The Star tortoise (Geochelone elegans) belongs to a group of tortoises that bear a distinguishing radiating pattern on their carapaces are a medium to large size tortoise. Variations of this pattern are quite common among African and to some extent Asian tortoises, and are - despite the eye-catching appearance in unnatural surroundings - a very efficient means of camouflage. Among the 'starred' group of tortoises are the Radiated, Spider and Flat-shelled tortoises of Madagascar and the Geometric and Tent tortoises of southernmost Africa. All the starred beauties have since the early days of herpetoculture been much sought after among tortoise enthusiasts and commercial trade, legal as well as illegal has together with the ever-present habitat destruction led to all these species becoming locally or regionally threatened. The starred species that traditionally has been the most common in captivity is the Star tortoise, much due to an historical extensive trade in wild caught specimens mainly from Sri Lanka.
The yellow-footed tortoise (Chelonoidis denticulata) is also called the yellow-foot or yellow-legged tortoise, the Brazilian giant tortoise, or South American forest tortoise,also known as the Brazilian giant tortoise, is a species of tortoise in the family Testudinidae and is closely related to the red-footed tortoise (C. carbonaria). It is found in the Amazon Basin of South America and is an endangered species. With an average length of 40 cm (15.75 in) and the largest known specimen at 94 cm (37 in), this is the sixth-largest tortoise species on Earth, after the Galapagos tortoise, the Aldabra tortoise, the African spurred tortoise, the leopard tortoise, and the Asian forest tortoise. The yellow-footed tortoise can live around 50–60 years.