Turtles are inspirational. Turtles are reptiles that live on land, in the sea, or in fresh water depending on the species. There are 327 known species alive today. They have a shell that covers their back. Their limbs and head protrude from the shell. All turtles are cold-blooded. Whether the species lives on land or in the water, turtles lay their eggs on land. Sea and fresh water turtles bury their eggs in mud or sand near the water’s edge. Following an approximately two to four month independent incubation period turtle young make their way out of their eggs and nest. Turtles are not cared for by their parents. They may take years to reach the breeding age themselves.
Adult turtles may breed every few years instead of annually. Of interest is that turtle’s organs do seem to change and break down over time. A young turtle and a centenarian turtle were found to have similar livers, lungs, and kidneys. Researchers are studying the turtle genome for longevity genes.
Turtles eat a variety of things depending on where they live. Some eat plants. Some eat algae, aquatic plants, insects, snails, and worms. Others eat fish, jellyfish, sponge, and other soft-bodied organisms. Protein is important for growth and some turtles are carnivorous. Turtles may fed on already-dead animals.
Turtles vary in size from the leatherback sea turtle at approximately six and a half feet in length and over two thousand pounds to the speckled padloper tortoise who can just reach 3.1 inches and about 4.9 ounces. There is debate about fossil records and turtles’ lengths of existence. However, dates go back well-over a hundred million years ago and make them a long living reptile with an extensive evolutionary tale.
About half of all turtle species are considered threatened. Habitat destruction, harvesting for consumption, their use in traditional Chinese medicine, and the pet trade are all threats to turtle’s existence. Turtles have made their way into popular culture. Turtles are farm-raised and protected in places. Turtles have made their mark. Be inspired! Have a bright day!