Turtles are reptiles that belong to the testudine family, which comprises of turtles, tortoises and terrapins. This order of reptiles is characterised by their hard, cartilaginous shell, which is actually part of their skin. Members of the turtle family date back 157 million years making them more ancient than any other reptile including crocodiles and snakes.
Like all reptiles, turtles are ectotherms meaning that they regulate their body temperate using external sources like the sun. Although aquatic turtles spend most of their time in water, they breathe air and lay their eggs on land making them amniotes.
A turtles diet may vary depending on their species morphology and habitat. For example, sea turtles usually feed on jellyfish or sea sponges where as the green sea turtle is completely herbivorous. The main difference between turtles and tortoises is that turtles have flippers for life in the water. Tortoises live on land so have legs.
In Australia, The Great Barrier Reef is home to the beautiful green turtle. Unfortunately, green turtle populations are decreasing due to habitat loss and fragmentation. Increasing water temperatures have had a major impact on the reef, which in turn affects the green turtles food source.
Never miss a Nat Geo moment
Join our curious community and you'll have access to some great features!
Personalised content reflecting your interests on the site
Watch exclusive videos before anyone else
Favourite content that you like or want to check out later
Free SMS and Email reminders so you never miss a show
Get notified when content that interests you is published
Share your photos on Snap! that could appear on TV
Share your thoughts and opinions on various matters
Receive a monthly newsletter with loads of great content