Some small terrestrial tortoises and freshwater turtles species are kept as pets.
All tortoises are in fact turtles.
Tortoises have more rounded and domed shells whereas 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 a life spent in water.
Tortoises are the longest-living land animals in the world. In general, most tortoise species can live 80 to 150 years. There are 360 living and recently extinct species of turtles, including land-dwelling tortoises and freshwater terrapins.
Communication in tortoises is different from many other reptiles. They are restricted by their shell and short limbs, therefore visual communication is not strong. Tortoises use the sense of smell to determine the sex of other tortoises so that they can find a potential mate.
The differences between males and females vary from species to species. In some species, males have a longer, more protruding neck plate than their female counterparts, while in others, the claws are longer on the females.
Diet: Pet tortoises typically require diets that are based on wild grasses, weeds, leafy greens, and certain flowers. Different species vary greatly in their nutritional needs. Too much protein is detrimental in herbivorous species and has been associated with shell deformities and other medical problems.
Featured image: Red-footed tortoise named Jasper. Courtesy: Kelsey Hartsell
Content creator: Petrus A. van Tonder