Turtles are slow-moving, egg-laying reptiles with an attached shell. Among the oldest living vertebrates, they came into existence over 200 million years ago. About 250 species inhabit most regions of the world, including the deep seas.
Terrestrial turtles, including the Galapagos giant tortoises, live on land where they eat grasses, flowers, fruits and shrubs. They dig burrows in the mud in which to cool themselves off.
Fresh Water Turtles
Many turtles, including snapping turtles, live in fresh water ponds and lakes, often coming ashore to bask in the sun and to lay eggs. Some northern species hibernate in the winter.
Sea turtles spend their lives in the ocean and come ashore only to lay eggs. Their feet have evolved into flippers for swimming.
Terrapins are semi-aquatic, spending time on land and in water. They prefer to make their homes near brackish water, including salt marshes, but can also survive in fresh water.
Turtles lay eggs in holes they dig on dry land. Most do not incubate their eggs. In many species, nest temperature determines the sex of the babies: warmer nests produce more females.
Baby turtles are on their own from the moment they hatch. Many species immediately make their way to water. Predation is extremely high in the first year of life.