What’s the difference between a tortoise and a turtle?
The difference between a tortoise and a turtle is “strictly semantics,” says the TORTOISE TRUST, a turtle and tortoise organization based in the U.K. “All are chelonians. All chelonians are turtles.”
In the USA — a turtle is found in or around water and a tortoise is found on dry land.
A terrapin is a turtle that is found in brackish water.
To determine the difference between a turtle and a tortoise, look at the back legs. If they are webbed, call it a turtle. If they are stumpy (like an elephants) call it a tortoise.
In common usage in the United States, the word turtle is an inclusive word that refers to all species of water turtle, sea turtle, box turtle, terrapin and tortoise. The word tortoise refers to a particular type of turtle that is well adapted to life on land.
Although people who keep pet turtles tend to use the collective term “herd” to refer to a group of turtles, the classic collective term is a “bale of turtles.”
No modern turtles possess real teeth. Instead, all of the turtles alive today have very sharp beaks which they use to bite with. Hatchlings emerge from their eggs using what is commonly known as the egg-tooth or caruncle. This is located at the front of the upper jaw and typically it disappears a few months after the turtle hatches. It is a modified scale and not a real tooth.
The famed giant tortoises that inhabit islands in the Galapagos Archipelago and Indian Ocean are the largest of the living land turtles.
The largest of all living turtles is a sea turtle. At an impressive six feet in length (and possibly longer) with a weight of some 590 kilograms (1300 pounds) the leatherback sea turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, is the true turtle giant!
Typical tortoise speed is about 0.17 mph. It would take one about one year, 11 months, 18 days to crawl from Los Angeles to New York City.