May 23rd = World Turtle Day

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May 23rd = World Turtle Day

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Photo by Belle Co on

If you are a turtle lover, as the title shows, May 23rd equals World Turtle Day. It was initiated as an annual observance beginning in 2000 and is sponsored by American Tortoise Rescue. This day was created “to help people celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world“.

I only remember having a pet turtle as a kid and not much more except that he was small enough to fit in the palm of my hand.

A great resource for turtles and tortoises is Zoo Med Labs of San Luis Obispo, California, who have been in business for 45 years. They care for 30 species of turtles and tortoises…several of which are endangered. They also provide habitats, foods, and, other necessary products for caring for your own turtle or tortoise with good knowledge of their care.

An interesting fact I discovered through Wikipedia is that World Turtle Day is promoted by dressing up as turtles, wearing green summer dresses, saving turtles caught on highways, research activities, and adopting turtles or tortoises from rehabilitation centers.

Sea Turtles

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There are said to be seven species of Sea Turtles and all seven are endangered for a number of reasons: climate change, ingesting plastic and other pollutants in our oceans, poaching for their shells and their eggs, habitat shrinkage of ocean beaches where they lay their eggs, and getting tangled in fishing nets. Sea Turtles have been around for over 100 million years. Some fascinating facts about sea turtles from Global

  • Sea turtles live in nearly every ocean basin in the world and nest on beaches.
  • Around 60 days after the eggs are laid, hatchlings emerge and know to make their way to the ocean. As a side note, my niece, Jill, and her husband help these little ones with their trek to the ocean in North Carolina.
  • Sea turtles spend almost their whole lives at sea, except when adult females come ashore to nest several times a season every two to five years.
  • The Leatherback is the largest sea turtle in the world. (They can weigh up to 2000 pounds.)
  • According to the WWF, a female Leatherback once travelled more than 11,800 miles in a round-trip across the Pacific Ocean, from Papua in Indonesia to the northwestern coast of the United States.
  • Some sea turtles can live for 50 years or more.
  • These creatures feed on anything from seaweed to jellyfish, depending on the species.

Turtle and Tortoise Facts

I had no idea there were so very many species of turtles and tortoises until I started researching the information. As it turns out: “They are distributed across every continent except Antarctica, from South Asia to Canada, and there are approximately 356 species of turtles, including 49 species of tortoises (i.e., turtles that live on land as well as water and have more rounded, domed shells).

Reptiles Magazine has pictures and descriptions of all of these turtle and tortoise species. If you are interested you can take a gander through their information.

Difference between Turtles and Tortoises

So what exactly is the difference between a turtle and a tortoise? Tortoises have more rounded and domed shells where turtles have thinner, more water-dynamic shells. Turtle shells are more streamlined to aid in swimming. One major key difference is that tortoises spend most of their time on land and turtles are adapted for life spent in water.

Turtles normally live anywhere from 20 to 40 years while tortoises typically continue on 80 to 150 years.

Turtles are omnivores eating plants and meat while tortoises are herbivores eating only plants.

And turtle fins are more streamlined for swimming while tortoises have bent legs for walking on land.

Turtles are found mainly in Africa and America. Tortoises are mostly found in Asia and Africa with some in the Americas, like the giant Galapagos tortoise found in South America in the Galapagos Islands. This tortoise has a lifespan of 175 years. Wow!

Most Common Types of Tortoise

Most common to the USA is the GopherTortoise who lives mainly in the southeastern US. This guy digs burrows which provide shelter for over 300 animal species. He is normally 9 to 11 inches as an adult but can grow up to 15 inches in length.

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The most popular tortoise as a pet here in the USA is Herrmann’s tortoise. This tortoise is said to have a fun personality and an attractive shell pattern. They hail from the rocky hillsides and forests of Mediterranean Europe. If you want one as a pet, do consider their longevity! Their life expectancy is 75 years. An adult size is 6 to 8 inches.

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Some Fun Turtle Facts

Some fun facts compliments of Learning Lift Off:

  • Turtles belong to one of the oldest reptile groups. They are older than snakes, lizards, and crocodiles.
  • Turtles lay eggs and the temperature determines the sex. If the eggs are laid in a hot climate, the eggs are usually female, and if in cooler climates, they are normally male.
  • Most turtles can hide their heads when an enemy attacks them.
  • The largest turtle is the leatherback sea turtle weighing up to 2000 pounds, and one of the smallest is the speckled cape tortoise. It has a shell which is just 3.1 inches long and this guy weighs only 5 ounces.
  • In many cultures turtles signify patience and wisdom.
  • Also important to note is: “Tortoises and freshwater turtles are important seed and spore dispersers for many plants, trees and fungi. Snapping and softshell turtles are important scavengers that help maintain clean aquatic ecosystems.

Conservation Tips

Some useful tips, also compliments of Learning Lift Off, to help conserve turtle habitats:

If you spot a turtle on the road in danger of being hit by a car, learn the techniques to move it safely from Turtle Rescue League.

Learn how to help turtles live in their natural habitats.

And never take a turtle out of its natural habitat.

Adopt turtles from organizations like Pet rather than buying one from a pet store.

See more about Zoo Med in “A Variety of Pet Tips“.

Turtle Videos Plus

From Big Geek Daddy: Fish Surviving in ‘Fishing Gone Wrong’ –

Next about an underground turtle: And yes, it’s a Gopher Tortoise –

And here are reptiles and amphibians:

One last showing animal rescues including a turtle tied up in fish line:


So happy to have you come by Pet Viewpoint. Please share with your family and friends and come back next week for more fun pet facts and great USA-made products and services to benefit your pets.

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Published by Copywriter Tricia Perry

Copywriter for the Pet Industry specializing in blog posts, product descriptions, ,in-depth product reviews on my site or yours, and editing and proofreading services...all of my past experience helping to improve your bottom line.

2 thoughts on “May 23rd = World Turtle Day

  1. All the turtle/tortoise news was well worth reading. It’s horrifying how many of them as well as other sea life are killed because of the trash we humans dump in our oceans.

  2. Thanks for the mention!! ❤️. Turtle nesting season started May 1st. Our team walks the beach every morning looking for turtle tracks and picking up trash. 😊

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