KidZone Animals
Turtles and Tortoises (and Terrapins)

© written by Tasha Guenther

Eastern Box turtle on the road

"Box Turtle on the Trail"; used with permission under CC BY-SA 2.0

Turtles are small land and marine reptiles found almost anywhere (especially south of the equator). While “turtle” is the common name used for all species within the Chelonii order, there are actually three names used: “Turtle,” “Tortoise,” and “Terrapin.” The use of these names varies widely. In the UK, “Turtle” is used for marine turtles and tortoise is used for land turtles. "Tortoise" does, however, usually refer to any land-living turtle, and "Terrapin” is used to describe a few distinct species of hard-shell turtles, typically found in marshes. To get rid of all of this confusion, though, it is OK to call all species within the Chelonii order just “Turtles.” If you would like to be more scientific, many veterinarians use the word “Chelonian.”

Chelonians or turtles are cold-blooded. This means that their inside body temperature changes according to the surrounding temperature. As well, turtles breathe the same air we do! And while they are generally known for their slow movement, the statement “slow and steady wins the race” really holds true with these reptiles; they are some of the most consistent land and water travelers in the animal kingdom!

Turtle Activities

Turtle Facts

Turtle Photos