World Turtle Day is celebrated every year on May 23. On this day, here are some interesting and fun facts about the grand old reptiles.
>> Turtles are one of the oldest types of reptile on the planet. They been around for about 200 million years!
>> They have a lot in common with their earliest ancestors, with the exception of teeth and the ability to retract their heads which ancient turtles did not have.
>> The term tortoises is referred to terrestrial turtles. Thus, a tortoise can be called a turtle, but a turtle is not always a tortoise. One way to tell them apart is by looking at their feet – water turtles usually have flippers or webbed feet and their shells are flatter while tortoises have stubby feet (like elephants) and domed shells.
>> A turtle shell is comprised of 60 connected bones, including the spine and ribcage.
>> There are species of turtle living on every continent on Earth except Antarctica.
>> Turtles have nerve endings in their shells. It can feel every scratch and rub.
>> The Alligator Snapping Turtle has a tongue that bears resemblance to a worm which it uses lure its prey.
>> Turtles don't have vocal cords, and as a result the noises they make tend to be more like clucks or even belches.
>> Turtles don't have ears. They do have an eardrum-like structure which enable them to hear low-frequency noise.
>> The African Helmeted Turtle has glands under each of its legs, which release a nasty-smelling liquid to repel predators.
>> The temperature a turtle egg is kept at can actually determine the sex of the baby turtle inside. Eggs kept warmer tend to produce females, while eggs kept at a lower temperature will generally produce males.
>> Many species of turtles have incredible life spans. The oldest documented case was an Indian Ocean Giant Tortoise, which at the time of its capture was estimated to be around 50 years old, and which lived another 152 years in captivity!
What is World Turtle Day?
World Turtle Day is sponsored yearly since 2000 by American Tortoise Rescue. The main aim of the day is to bring attention to and increase knowledge of and respect for, turtles and tortoises, and encourage human action to help them survive and thrive.
World Turtle Day is celebrated around the globe in a variety of ways, from dressing up as turtles or wearing green summer dresses, to saving turtles caught on highways, to research activities.