What is The Difference Between Turtles and Tortoises?

Turtles are such interesting and unique animals, but how do you tell a turtle from a tortoise? Not only are they very different animals, but it’s also hard to tell the difference without someone actually showing you.

One of the most common misconceptions about turtles is that they are tortoises. Tortoises are actually a different suborder of reptiles known as Testudines and turtles are a different suborder of turtles known as Chelonia.

Turtles and tortoises both have shells, but other than that, the two animals look quite different. Tortoises can weigh up to 150 pounds and measure up to six feet in length, while turtles typically weigh only a few pounds and measure around three feet in length.

Interesting Facts About Turtles

Turtles are a type of reptile that lives on land. The majority of turtles are native to the Americas, but there are also many species that live in Asia and Europe. Turtles can be found in a variety of habitats, from forests to deserts.

Turtles have an interesting anatomy that makes them different from other reptiles. They have four legs and a flat, broad head. Their bodies are covered with a hard shell that can vary in color, from light brown to black. Some turtles have colorful shells that help them blend into their surroundings.

Turtles are omnivores and eat a variety of things, including plants, insects, and other animals. They can use their hard shells to defend themselves against predators or prey.

What is the Difference Between Turtles and Tortoises?

Turtles and tortoises are both reptiles, meaning they have scaly skin. The main difference between turtles and tortoises is that turtles have a flat shell that helps them move around more easily, whereas tortoises have a domed shell that helps protect them from predators.

However, the turtle shell is not as strong as tortoise shells. Turtles can shed their old shells and take on new ones when they grow up. Tortoises do not have this ability.

Turtles are found in freshwater only, while tortoises are found in both fresh and salt water. The shell of the tortoise helps it to live on land, while the skin of the turtle is thick enough to protect it from predators that would otherwise eat it alive!

What are the Characteristics of a Turtle or a Tortoise?

A tortoise or turtle is a reptile that has a shell, and they are classified in the family of Testudines. A tortoise’s carapace (upper shell) can be light or dark brown, green, or black, with yellow markings on the neck and head. The plastron (lower shell) is usually white or cream-colored. The average size of a tortoise is about four feet long and one foot wide. Tortoises can live up to 80 years and females are generally larger than males.

Turtles are more closely related to lizards than they are to snakes, so their legs and tails are not as long as those of snakes. Their front limbs have three toes on each foot and their rear limbs have two toes each. Turtles do not have eyelids, so they must close their eyes when it gets dark. They also have a special muscle at the base of their tails that helps them withdraw their bodies into their shells when they are threatened.

Tortoises differ from turtles in that tortoises generally have a harder shell than turtles do. This is because tortoises live in areas where there is lots of competition for food and they have to protect themselves.

Are Tortoises Turtles?

Yes, tortoises are classified as turtles. However, their shells are very different from those of turtles. Tortoises have a hard shell on their back and a soft shell on their front. This helps them survive in the wild.

Their shells are a different shape than those of turtles. Tortoises have an elongated shell that is more rounded on the back and a flat, scaly type of shell on the front. Tortoises also have a greater number of vertebrae than turtles.

Tortoise Shell vs. Turtle Shell

A tortoise vs. turtle shell comparison can be a little confusing because they look so similar. The main difference between these two creatures is that a tortoise has a hard shell while a turtle has a soft shell. This doesn’t mean that all tortoises have hard shells and all turtles have softshells, but it is an important distinction to make.

One of the reasons that tortoises have hard shells is that they need them to protect themselves from predators. Tortoises are slow and sluggish on their feet, so they’re not very good at running away or defending themselves. They also don’t have any sharp claws as some other animals do, so they need something to protect them from predators.

Turtles, on the other hand, are fast and agile creatures. They can move quickly and hide in their shell if necessary. Their sharp claws help them catch food, so they don’t really need a hard shell to protect them. In fact, most turtles don’t have a hard shell at all, they have soft shells.

There are different types of turtles, but all of them have one thing in common: their softshells protect them from predators and from getting hurt. There are many different types of turtles, but the most common ones are:

  • Common Turtles
  • Red-Eared Sliders
  • Gopher Tortoises

Snapping Turtles Here’s a list of some reasons why turtles have no hard shells: Most turtles live in warmer water habitats. If they lived in colder water and had to protect themselves with a hard shell, that shell would probably freeze. Other animals would have to get around it, which could be dangerous for them and their prey.

Differences in Habitat

One of the most obvious differences between tortoises and turtles is their habitat. Tortoises live on dry land while turtles live in water. Tortoises prefer shady areas while turtles are more active in the sun. Tortoises also eat plants, while turtles mainly eat animals.

Reproduction of Turtles vs. Tortoises

Reproduction for both turtle and tortoise is quite similar. The females dig a hole in the ground and lay their eggs in it. The eggs hatch into juvenile turtles or tortoises, who then crawl out of the hole onto the land. Adult turtles or tortoises will then live off of insects and other small animals that they catch with their mouths.

Difference in Lifespan

Different Tortoise Species Have Different Lifespans. The Average Lifespan for a Turtle is Up to 100 Years, but the Average Lifespan for a Tortoise is Up to 150 Years. The Main Difference Between the Two Species Is That Turtles Are More Likely to Grow Much Larger Than Tortoises, and They Live in More Tropical climates.


I hope that this article on the difference between turtles and tortoises has helped you to better understand the two species. In short, tortoises are earth-bound reptiles that inhabit warm climates while turtles are aquatic creatures that can be found in all but the coldest parts of the world.

Beyond these basic distinctions, though, there is a lot of overlap between the two groups, with tortoises being particularly adept at digging deep into the soil for sustenance and nesting purposes.