Tortoises and Turtles

ORDER -   CHELONIA
Tortoises are land based animals with solid feet which in some cases are used for digging as well as walking, enabling the tortoise to go underground to escape extreme
 weather conditions.
 Turtles are marine creatures completely adapted to life in the sea and excepting the females which come ashore to lay eggs  never leave the water. They are not represented
 at the Reptile Park
 Inhabiting fresh water rivers and lakes are web footed turtles that spend much time on land basking etc.and quite capable of walking long distances  these are sometimes
 called terrapins. Their shells are flatter than those of tortoises, their eyes and nostrils are positioned on the head in such a manner to allow them to be poked above the
 waterline while the body remains submerged. In some species they have long necks which allows the body to remain even lower.

 BREEDING
 All tortoise and turtles are egg layers burying them in a suitable place where the heat from  the sun will keep it warm enough for them to hatch. There is no parental care.

Tortoises and turtles at the Reptile Park
           Red-footed tortoise Geochelone carbonaria
          Yellow-footed tortoise  Geochelone denticulata
           Leopard tortoise  Geochelone pardalis
           Galapagos tortoise  Geochelone nigra
           Chaco tortoiseGeochelone chilensis
           Star tortoise Geochelone elegans
           Asian box turtle Cuora amboinensis
           Murray River turtleEmydura macquarii
           Texas tortoise  Gopherus berlandieri
           Spur-thighed tortoise Testuda gracea ibera
           Hermans tortoise  Testuda hermanni
           Red-eared terrapin  Pseudyms scripta
           Reeves  turtleChinemys reevesii
           Box turtle  Terrapene carolina
           Snake-neck terrapin  Chelodina longicollis
           Florida soft shelled turtle Trionyx apalone

Spur-thighed Tortoise  Testudo graeca ibera  Comes from countries at the Northeastern end of the Mediterranean Sea where it grazes on succulent plants for food. Egg laying in this country starts in November with up to three clutches being laid about a month apart. The clutch size varies from four to twelve eggs. In their natural range they would spend the Winter months buried in the ground  hibernating  but at the Reptile Park the temperature does not maintain stable low levels to allow this, however we do house them in boxes of dry leaves for a couple of months away from the worst of the wet weather. They do not feed over this period.
 
 

Spur- thigh tortoise Juveniles 1-3 years old


Hermans Tortoise  Testudo hermanni Countries along the Northern coast of the Mediterranean are the home of this tortoise. Feeding and breeding are similar to Spur-thigh tortoise although the mating habits differ. Male Spur-thighs attract the attention of the females by ramming them in the rear of the carapace with the front of their plastron  which has been thickened for such a purpose. Male Hermans do not ram but will bite at the legs of the female. In both cases the same tactics are employed to dominate or chase other males away during the mating season.
 
 
 
Hermans tortoise

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Yellow-footed Tortoise  Geochelone denticulata  Comes from tropical forests of South America where it feeds on green leaves and fallen fruit. A clutch is usually 4-5 eggs.  11131
 


Red-footed Tortoise Geochelone carbonaria  Also from South America where it lives in grassland savannah and forest that is less humid than that preferred by the Yellow-footed one, otherwise its habits are similar. 1193
 
The topside of a tortoise shell is called the plastron.
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Leopard Tortoise  Geochelone pardalis     These tortoises are found over the whole length of Africa, inhabiting grasslands where they graze succulent green plants along with the grasses. They need a high calcium requirement to their diet and have been noted to chew bones and hyena  faeces to obtain it. Coming from warm climates they do not hibernate and remain active and feeding throughout the year.
 
 
 

Galapagos Tortoise  Geochelone nigra
 
 
 

 

Chaco Tortoise Geochelone chilensis  The grasslands of Argentina are the home of this tortoise which provide plants for grazing. Clutch sizes are usually small, two eggs being a common number. 176
 
 
 
 

Chaco tortoise Strong walking legs of a tortoise
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Star Tortoise   Geochelone elegans  This beautiful tortoise comes from India and Sri Lanka. It lives in scrub forest and grassy areas feeding on grasses and broadleaf plants.It does not hibernate and after the onset of the monsoons is very active, feeding on the new growth it produces. Mating behaviour is noticeable at this time as well.  Up to six eggs are laid per clutch. 170
 
Star tortoise Front legs can be folded in front of head for protection


Texas Tortoise Gopherus berlandieri South-Western U.S.A is the home for this tortoise. It one of a group of American tortoises known as gopher tortoises as they will use gopher burrows underground as shelters sometimes going considerable distances. They are also capable of digging their own burrows of to about 40cm that it uses as an escape from temperature extremes and for hibernation.  The plastron has a two pronged projection extending forwards that is used by the males as a lever to roll adversaries over during bouts for supremacy.They feed on grasses and succulent plants such as cacti and lay three or four eggs per clutch.
 
The underside of a tortoise shell is called the plastron. The projection at the front is used by the males to overturn competitors at breeding season.
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Three-toed Box Tortoise Terrapene carolina triunguis These come from the Southern states in the middle part of the U.S.A. Box tortoises have hinged portions of the plastron [the under part of the shell] which enables them to withdraw their head and limbs and completely shut them off. They are omnivorous eating fruit, greens, snails, insects etc. When mating the female will sometimes trap the back  legs of the male with the rear portion of her hinged plastron and move off, towing him upside down and backwards in an undiginfied manner. They usually lay four to five eggs which have soft leathery rather than hard calcareous shells. 219
 
A hinged plastron allows the box tortoise perfect protection to head and limbs


Reeves Turtle  Chinemys reevesii Distributed throughout Asia it lives in shallow streams and ponds eating aquatic plants, fish and aquatic insects and snails.  It lays hard shelled eggs four to ten per clutch.206
 
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Red-eared Terrapin  Chrysemys scripta elegans  From the mid and Southern states of the U.S.A. lives in rivers and ponds and has an omnivorous diet similar to the Reeves turtle. It lays clutches of up to eight soft shelled eggs and like the Reeves spends much time basking on the waters edge. Thousands of baby ones are sold throughout the world in the pet trade.261
 
For safety just the eyes and nostrils can be poked through the surface


Snake-neck  Turtle Chelodina longicollis    Eastern Australia is the home of this terrapin where it lives in slow moving streams and swamps. It spends most of the time in the water but will on occasion travel considerable distances in migration during the Summer. It has a long neck, about the same length as the shell, which when  folded sideways allows the head to be brought back into the shell for protection.   Its food is fish, molluscs and aquatic worms and insects. A clutch can be as many as fifteen hard shelled eggs
To withdraw their head the neck is folded in a loop Juveniles at 6 months
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Murray River Turtle Emydura macquarii   From South East Australia this turtle inhabits large rivers and waterholes and has a diet similar to the Snake-neck. It has a clutch of about ten hard shelled eggs which it buries high up on the river bank.
Murray river turtle
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Malayan Box Tortoise Cuora amboinensis  From Indonesia and Malaysia this semi-aquatic tortoise lives in marshes and ponds. It is omnivorous feeding on plants as well as snails, earthworms and pond creatures. The females produce several clutches of normally two eggs per season. 253
 
 

Florida Soft Shelled Turtle  Trionyx apalone These unusual turtles are native to South East of the U.S.A.  They inhabit slow moving waterways such as the Everglades and are mainly aquatic in habit, sometimes burying into the silt substrate. They lack the bony shells of other turtles and  the body is covered with a leathery skin  instead. The long neck and snorkle-like nose enable them to obtain air while still submerged at a reasonable depth and remain hidden from surface prey and possible predators. They have very well developed webbed feet and being mainly aquatic, will bask out of the water at times.  They are highly carnivorous with a diet of insects, snails, fish, small mammals, amphibians etc. Their bite is very strong and a large one is capable of inflicting serious injury.
The eggs are deposited in the banks and left to hatch.
 
 
florida soft-shelled turtle

 



 
 

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