Sunday, July 4, 2010
Be like a turtle; at ease in your own shell.
The thing about turtles and tortoises is, I don't know much about them. I know they are cute. I know that a few summers ago I fed a snapping turtle a hot dog. I know that out west, we don't see a lot of them. But now, I'm going to know a bit more.
Above you see a tortoise (top) and a common snapping turtle (bottom). I took these photos the other day at a Reptile Zoo presentation. The difference between the two is this: the common snapping turtle is a freshwater turtle found in Canada and the U.S. The tortoise is a desert turtle that lives on land. Turtle has webbed feet, tortoise has club feet. They both have shells (called a carapace) to hide from predators in. But a tortoise will sink and drown in the water while a turtle will swim.
The snapping turtle can live to 30 or 40 years in the wild, and eat fish, frogs, birds and mammals. They are nocturnal - meaning they hide in mud or sand during the day and wait for their prey and during the winter become dormant, again burying themselves beneath muddy pond bottoms for the duration of the winter.
The tortoise can live up to 150 years, although one has been recorded as living longer. A tortoise named Tu'i Malila, who was a present of the Tongan royal family in 1777, remained in the care of that family until 1965. That would mean that Tu;i Malila lived until it was 188 years old. Tortoises like to eat lettuce, worms and insects, among other things.