World Facts

Are Turtles Reptiles?

Although turtles are often assumed to be amphibians, they are actually reptiles!

Turtles are reptiles and not amphibians as many people think. They are classified as part of Kingdom Animalia; phylum Chordata and class Reptilia. Kingdom Animalia consists of animals, phylum Chordata includes vertebrates, and class Reptilia consists of all reptiles. Turtles and tortoises are both reptiles, they have near similar physical appearance, but turtles can live on land and in water. They are the both in the same kingdom, phylum, class, and order but they belong to different taxonomic families.

Characteristics of Reptiles

Reptiles are tetrapod meaning they walk on four limbs or are descendants of animals that walked on four limbs. They have a backbone just like all animals in the phylum Chor data.In evolution terms, reptiles are the intermediates between the warm-blooded mammals and the cold-blooded amphibians. Reptiles are amniotes, meaning that the females lay eggs although a few such as the squamate lizards give birth to young ones. The main difference between the young ones born by mammals and reptiles is the lack of the placenta among reptiles. All reptiles have scales made of several layers of dead skin. Crocodiles have a tough armor-like outer skin while turtles and tortoises have shells. Scales are not limited to reptiles as fish and birds possess them too. Reptiles are cold-blooded, their body temperature depends on the temperature of the environment they are. Cold-blooded animals bask in the sun to raise their temperature and crawl beneath rocks, shrubs, barks or enter burrows to lower the temperature. A majority of reptiles have lungs for respiratory purposes, but a few utilize other forms or respiration. Lizards breathe through the same muscles they use to run, and that is why they cannot breathe while in motion.

Facts About Turtles

Turtles are among the most primitive and oldest reptiles on the planet having evolved over millions of years. There are several species of turtles with the largest being the leatherback turtle. The alligator snapping turtle is the largest turtle in North America while the Yangtze giant is the largest softshell turtle. The ocean-dwelling turtles spend their time in water and only leave to lay eggs in the sand. Freshwater turtles are found in lakes and ponds. They are omnivorous animals, but their preferred diet depends on the species. They feed on plants, insects, small fish, and mollusks. The Cooter turtle prefers feeding green plants while the green sea turtle only feeds on algae and grass. Turtles breathe using lungs, although they spend time under water, they have to emerge to breath.

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