GENERAL INFORMATION ON TORTOISES AND TURTLES
From La Fontaine to the Ninja Turtles, from Franklin the Turtle to Crush in Finding Nemo and Caroline in Billy and Buddy, tortoises and turtles have always been popular creatures!
Greek mythology has it that although all gods, human beings and animals were invited to the wedding of Zeus and Hera, Chelone refused to attend. “There’s no place like home!” she answered when Zeus asked her to explain her absence. Zeus condemned her to carry her home on her back forever. The word “tortoise” comes from the Greek word “khelônê”, hence the name “chelonians” and the Latin “testudo”, testudines. Testudines or chelonians are the order of reptiles with a carapace!
What is a turtle or a tortoise ?
It is a tetrapod (four-legged) reptile with a carapace. This carapace is made up of a plastron (underneath) and a carapace (on top), linked by two bridges at the sides.
The order is traditionally divided into three groups: tortoises, aquatic or freshwater turtles and sea turtles.
Turtles and tortoises are oviparous and lay eggs about once a year. Young turtles and tortoises grow up quickly; their development then slows down. Depending on their age and their species, tortoises and turtles may eat meat or plants.
More than 300 species of tortoises and turtles can be found across the globe, living in a wide range of habitats. Forty-two percent of these species are threatened with extinction, either because of habitat destruction or because of excessive predation. Human involvement is very significant in both cases, despite campaigns to protect these populations.
With nearly 40% of your bodyweight on your back at all times and in a world which moves at breakneck speed, slow down and experience life at a tortoise’s pace !