The Topic:
Turtles and Tortoises

This 42eXplore ( project from eduScapes ( includes a companion webpage called 'Types of Turtles & Tortoises' ( There you will find an indexed list of links to over a hundred additional websites - - providing lots more information and photographs for different species. Don't miss it!
Easier - Turtles are reptiles whose soft body is covered by a hard shell. Most turtles can pull their legs, tail, and head into the shell for protection. Different turtles live on land, in water, or both on land and in water. Some turtles that live on land are called tortoises. A terrapin is a turtle that lives in or near freshwater or partly salty, coastal water. The name terrapin is only used for a group of North American turtles.
Harder - Turtles can be grouped into seven main types: (1) mud and musk turtles, (2) pond and marsh turtles, (3) sea turtles, (4) side-necked turtles, (5) snapping turtles, (6) soft-shelled turtles, and (7) tortoises. Like other reptiles, all turtles are cold-blooded; their body temperature about matches the temperature of their environment. They are found living in deserts, forest, grasslands, lakes, marshes, ponds, wetlands, coastal areas, and in the oceans. Turtles live in almost all geographic regions except those which are cold year-round. They cannot remain active in cold weather, so species in regions that have harsh winters must hibernate. Some desert species survive the hot, dry periods by going into a related state of limited activity called estivation. Sea turtles spend most of their life in the water. Other species live mainly on land or in fresh water or spend about an equal time on land and in water.
There are over 250 different turtle species; about 50 live in North America. Between species, turtles vary in size from the bog turtle of about 4 inches long (10 centimeters) to the huge leatherback sea turtle, which can mature to 4 to 8 feet lengths (1.2 to 2.4 meters). Many turtles spend their entire life within a short distance from where they were hatched, but most sea turtles migrate thousand of miles. Sea turtles are also fast swimmers; but on land most kinds of turtles are slow, lumbering creatures. However, some land turtles like the smooth soft-shell specie can sometimes outrun a human. Most turtles are omnivores, that is they eat both plants and animals but the exact foods consumed vary between the species. For instance, green sea turtles and tortoises feed almost entirely on plants. A few freshwater species including the map turtle and soft-shelled turtles eat mainly other small animals.
Today over 40 species of turtles including most sea turtles and many types of tortoises are endangered, and if turtle conservation and protection does not improve, certain species will become extinct. People are their greatest threat. Historically people have sought turtle eggs and meat for food. Turtle shells have been used for ornamentation. Rare exotic turtles have been shipped and trafficked as pets. Turtles are still hunted and captured today; turtle nests are plundered. People further harm turtles by eliminating their natural living areas as forests, swamps, and other areas are transformed for farms and urban growth. Further endangerment comes from continued pollution of their living areas.
Tortoise Trust
This is the website of an organization dedicated to the protection and conservation of tortoises.
Related Websites:
2) Box Turtle Website
3) Hatchling Haven
4) Slowcoach
5) World Turtle Trust
Turtles and Tortoises from World Almanac for Kids
Here you can learn about these animals' physical and behavioral traits.
Other Kids Turtle Sites:
2) All About Turtles
3) Bill's Box Turtles
4) Sea Turtle Facts from NetPets, Inc.
5) Sea Turtles (Theme page)
6) Tortoise from World Book Online
Turtle Pages
This site informs people about the diversity of turtle species, raise awareness about the plight of endangered turtles, and educates individuals on how to properly care for pet turtles.
Related Websites:
2) All Turtles
3) Felice's World of Turtles
Turtle Trax
Learn about endangered sea turtles and how you can help save them at this marine turtle site.
Related Websites:
2) EuroTurtle
3) Information on Sea Turtles and Threats To Their Survival
4) Marine Turtles
5) Sea Turtle
6) Sea Turtle (Chelonidae)
7) Sea Turtle Conservation Program
8) Sea Turtle Protection and Conservation
9) Sea Turtle Survival League / Caribbean Conservation
10) Sea Turtle
11) Sea Turtles from Sea World
12) Sea Turtles
13) Sea Turtles (Chelonidae)
14) Track A Turtle
15) Turtles in Trouble from National Geographic
16) Turtle Time, Inc.
You may also want to visit some or all of these related websites: (1) Deserts at, (2) Eggs, (3) Pond Life, (4) Rivers, (5) Tide Pools, and (6) Wetlands - - all from eduScapes 42eXplore.
After visiting several of the websites, complete one or more of these activities . . .
Compare & Contrast Two Turtles. Select two entirely different turtles and identify the ways which they are alike and the ways that they are different. You can find additional information about several different turtles at the companion webpage: "Types of Turtles and Tortoises" (
Take A Turtle Quiz. Test your knowledge with the Sea Turtle Online Quiz! ( You might want to follow up with other fun activities found at Games, Puzzles and Quizzes (
Complete A Turtle WebQuest. Follow or adapt the procedures found at one of the following webQuest sites:
1) Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle WebQuest (Grade 4) by E. Magee and L. Miller
2) Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Grade 7) by M. Bright
3) Save the Fanny Beach Sea Turtles! (Grades 6-8) by S. Masters and L. Roberts
4) Sea Turtle Adventure (Grade 2) by A. Friar, A. McDonald, A. Sullivan, & E. Thompson
5) Sea Turtles by G. Rossi (Grades 6 and up)
Practice Identifying Sea Turtles. Work through the identification exercises found at Identification Keys ( from EuroTurtle. See how you do with the three online quizzes.
Create A Turtle Protection Poster. Sea turtles, desert tortoises, coastal terrapins - - many different types of turtles need protection and some are facing possible extinction. Create a poster that is both attractive and conveys the importance of protecting turtles. You can focus your project on a specific type of turtle or the dangers of a certain activity such as turtles caught in shrimp nets, turtles illegally caught for food, and nests destroyed for their turtle eggs. Display your complete poster.
Draw A Turtle. You can find some help at sites like (1) Learn to Draw a Turtle ( from Cartoon Critters. An alternative activity is to make a turtle following the instructions found at (2) Kid's Fun ( from The South Carolina Wildlife Federation or (3) Chickens Aren't the Only Ones ( from PBS Kids.
Write A Turtle Poem. If you need help with writing poetry or want additional ideas, visit another 42eXplore project from eduScapes titled "Poetry for Kids" ( Share your finished poetry. You could also illustrate your poems with an original drawing.
Websites By Kids For Kids
Save A Turtle (1997 ThinkQuest Internet Challenge)
This site encourages you to help save the sea turtle by cleaning up the environment and supporting organizations dedicated to helping save this endangered animal.
Turtles (2001 ThinkQuest Project)
Turtles have been on Earth since the Age of Dinosaurs or before. There are over 350 kinds of turtles out there and many of these are endangered. Learn more . . .
More Websites
California Turtle and Tortoise Club
This is the website of an organization dedicated to turtle and tortoise preservation, conservation, study and education.
Similar Organizations:
2) Chicago Turtle Club
3) New York Turtle and Tortoise Society
Learn about six species that live in Australia and nearby New Guinea and Indonesia.
This is an information repository supporting global turtle conservation. Our goal is to collect and provide current and historical data about turtle locations, and to help maintain the variety of turtles as part of the world's biodiversity. Don't miss the searchable World Turtle Database, where you can find more information about where various turtle species have been found.
Introduction to Testudines
The group Testudines, popularly known as the turtles, is an ancient clade with a grand history. Because turtles seem so bulky, slow, and ungainly (at least on land), you may not think of the turtle body plan or turtle strategy as especially "successful", but if we use the age and diversity of the clade Testudines as a measure of evolutionary success, turtles are certainly a successful group -- they date back to the Triassic period, and today are represented by a modest 200+ living species.
Mexico's Turtle Wars by M. Tennesen from National Wildlife Federation
Learn how one country is battling poachers and saving sea turtles.
Related Websites:
2) Lawmaker Hopes Bill Cracks Egg Poaching by B. Farrington from Miami Times
3) Poaching and the Illegal Sale of Amphibians and Reptiles by K. Blankenship from Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
4) Poaching Takes Leatherback Turtle to Near Extinction from The Straits Times (Singapore)
5) Sea Turtle for Easter Dinner Poses Questions for U.S. Policy from International Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources
6) Save Sea Turtles from Shrimp Nets
7) Shrimp Trawling Bycatch
8) Stories from the Grassroots from Orion
9) Trade of Hawksbill Turtle in Indonesian from ProFauna Indonesia
10) Turtle Nests Under Attack at Marquesas Keys by T.J. Tritten from Keynews
Missouri's Turtles
Learn about the turtles native to Missouri.
Other State's Turtle Sites:
2) Michigan's Turtles,1607,7-153-10370_12145_12201-60656--,00.html
3) New York State Sea Turtle Program
4) Sea Turtles of Maryland
Nova Scotia Turtles
Learn about the seven turtle species that are found in this province of Canada.
Overview of Common Semi-Aquatic Turtles by D.T. Kirkpatrick
This article examine some semi-aquatic turtles that are commonly available in the United States and provides information on their natural history, allowing potential turtle owners to make informed decisions as to which turtle, if any, they wish to keep.
Phylogeny of Turtles by E.S. Gaffney
This site provides a scientific introduction and overview of turtles.
Ten Things to Do for Turtles from The Humane Society of the United States
Here are some suggestions on how you can help turtles in your own neighborhood and around the world.
Related Webpages:
2) How You Can Help Protect Sea Turtles from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services
3) Simple Actions You Can Take to Protect Sea Turtles from Caribbean Conservation Corporation / Sea Turtle Survival League
4) Slow: Turtle Crossing Ahead
Turtle Portal
Here, you can find links to the best international sites dedicated to the charming world of turtles, tortoises and terrapins.
Websites For Teachers
Calling all Loggerheads: A Study of Sea Turtles (Grade 4) by L. Hood
This unit focuses on the different species of sea turtles. Causes for endangerment will be studied as well as migration patterns.
Estimating Turtle Size and Age (Grades 5-12)
Students will learn how to estimate age and size of turtles, and understand variability in scientific data.
Rescuing Turtles (Grades 3-7) from Learners Online, Inc.
In this lesson you will learn more about turtles, the world's first animal to invent the mobile home.
Sea Turtles in Tennessee
Here are some classroom activity ideas for a unit on sea turtles.
Related Webpages:
2) Curriculum for Educators
3) Gulf Mysteries
Time Zones and Migration Patterns of the Leatherback Sea Turtle (Grades 6-8)
This lesson uses migration patterns of the leatherback sea turtle to help students understand how traveling around the world includes passage through different time zones.
Tracking Sea Turtles: Lessons in Saving an Endangered Species from Education World
Endangered sea turtles are in need of our attention, and the Internet offers some great activities for learning about sea turtles -- and even tracking their movements!
Turtle Tales (Grades K-2)
The lessons contain activities in Language Arts, Science, and Art. Turtle legends, life cycles, habitats, feeding and care are explored.
turtle sundae
captive breeding
turtle-excluder device (TED)
The Turtles
tide pool
plastral scutes
sea turtle
artificial lighting
"tortoise shell"
pond life
frogs & toads
Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 7/03.