8 Difference between Turtle and Tortoise (With Table)

Reptiles are cold-blooded vertebrates that have special skin.  Herpetology is the study of reptiles and amphibians. These animals tend to lay eggs though these eggs are internally fertilized.

Examples of reptiles are snakes, crocodiles, lizards, turtles, tortoises, and tuatara among many others. These animals either dwell on land or in water due to their special adaptions.

Turtles and tortoises have some close similarities. These features are the ones that tend to confuse a lot of people. The article provides information on how to tell the difference between tortoise and turtle.

The main difference between turtle and tortoise is that turtle lives in water most of the time while tortoise dwells on land. Let’s find out more information.

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Comparison Table between Turtle and Tortoise

Basic Terms Turtle Tortoise
Meaning It is a reptile that dwells in water and belongs to the Chelonian family It is a reptile that dwells on land and belongs to the Chelonian family
Geographical Location Africa and America Asia and Africa
The shape of the Shell Tend to be flat and streamlined Large dome shape with bumps
Weight of the Shell Lightweight Heavyweight
Mode of Feeding Omnivores Herbivores
Lifespan The short lifespan of between 20-40 years Long lifespan of between 80-150 years
Nature of Limbs Webbed feet with long claws Short and sturdy feet with bent legs
Birth hatching stay in the nest for about 90-120 days   Hatching moves to the mother’s burrow after birth

What Is a Turtle?

A turtle is a reptile that belongs to the Chelonian family and lives in water most of the time. These creatures are mainly found in Africa and America.

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Also, they have a flat and streamlined shell with webbed feet to enhance easy swimming. The shell is lightweight in nature and quite distinct from that of a tortoise.

Turtles eat both vegetables and meat hence termed omnivores. However, they tend to have a short lifespan of about 20-40 years. The maximum age of turtles is 86 years.

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What Is a Tortoise?

A tortoise is a reptile that dwells mostly on land and belongs to the Chelonian family. The creatures are quite common in Asia and Africa. But some species are also in America.

The shell of a tortoise is dome-shaped, heavier, and bumpier. This helps to prevent them from mechanical injuries on land.

The anatomy of the legs is unique from that of turtles. The legs are short and sturdy to crawl different terrains.

Tortoise feed mostly on vegetables hence termed as herbivores. They have a longer lifespan of about 80-150 years. The maximum age is about 188 years.

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Main Difference between Turtle and Tortoise

  1. Turtles dwell in the water while tortoises dwell on land
  2. Turtles are omnivores while tortoises are herbivores
  3. Turtles have a flat and streamlined shell while tortoises have dome-shaped and bumpier shell
  4. Turtles have a lightweight shell while that tortoise is heavyweight
  5. Turtles have a shorter lifespan while tortoises have a longer lifespan
  6. Turtles have long claws and webbed feet while tortoises have short and sturdy feet with bent legs
  7. Tortoise are mainly found in Asia and Africa while turtles are found in Africa and America
  8. The hatchings of tortoise move to the mother’s burrow immediately after birth while those of turtles remain in the nest for 90-120 days

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Similarities between Turtle and Tortoise

  1. Both are reptiles
  2. Both have shells on the upper part
  3. Both are reclusive and shy in nature
  4. Both can be kept as pets

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Comparison Video

YouTube video

Frequently Asked Questions: Turtle vs Tortoise

  • Are Tortoises and Turtles Related?

Tortoises and turtles are closely related. Both are reptiles but they belong to different families. Turtles belong to the family of Testudines and tortoise to the family of Chelonian.

  • Which Is Bigger Turtle Or Tortoise?

Tortoise is larger than turtle due to its heavyweight and dome-shaped shell. The turtle shell is lightweight and flat in appearance.

  • Should I Get A Turtle Or Tortoise?

Both turtles and tortoises can make great pets but they have different habitats. The habitat and type of food are factors that will help you in choosing the right pet.

  • Do Tortoises Bite?

Absolutely. But they are typically docile and peaceful. They use their beaks to bite other pets and sometimes humans for various reasons.

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Summary

Tortoise and turtles are closely related. Both can be kept as pets. The core difference between tortoises and turtles is their habitat. Turtles dwell in the water while tortoises dwell on land.

Sources and References

  1. Tortoise. Wikipedia
  2. Turtles. Wikipedia