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Life Cycle of a Turtle: Lesson for Kids

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Amy C. Evans

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Christianlly Cena

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A turtle's life cycle begins in an egg, and then after it hatches it faces a whole world of challenges. Follow the turtle as it grows from a hatchling to mature adulthood and learn about the growing stages and what a turtle must do to survive. Updated: 12/28/2021

Turtle Life Cycle

Think about how you are growing to become an adult. This is called your life cycle. At first, you were a little baby, then a toddler, next a child, after that you will become a teenager and then an adult. Turtles have a similar life cycle, but they don't go through the exact same phases. Mother turtles lay eggs, they hatch to become babies (or hatchlings), then they become juveniles, and after that they become adults. Let's learn more about each phase.

Mother Turtle Burying Eggs in a Hole
Turtle Burying Eggs

Turtle Eggs

Turtles lay eggs to produce baby turtles. The mothers dig holes in sand or mud to lay their eggs in a safe nest and bury them. This protects the eggs from predators. So if you ever notice a turtle that seems to be coming out from underground, they are probably returning from nesting or burying their eggs. The eggs are then left there from spring to summer to grow and become babies. Many turtle species take about three months to hatch.

Turtle eggs are shaped like spheres or ovals, and they're a little softer in texture than other animals' eggs. An interesting fact is that some species of turtles have eggs that become male or female based on the temperature of their nests.

Turtle Eggs in a Nest in the Ground
Turtle Eggs in the Ground

Hatchlings

The next phase in a turtle's life cycle is called the hatchlings phase. This is when baby turtles peck their way out of the eggs to begin trying to survive on their own. Can you imagine a baby human getting its own milk, shelter and protection? Baby humans cannot survive on their own without a person caring for them. However, the mother turtle is not there to protect and teach the hatchlings how to survive. Instead, baby turtles dig their way out of their hole and find the nearest water source to survive on their own.

Baby turtles on land and on the sea are in danger of predators eating them before they can grow up. Baby sea turtles have an especially tough obstacle of trying to make it from the sandy beach to ocean water without any help. Therefore, it is extra special when a hatchling grows to become a juvenile on its own.

Sea Turtle Hatchlings Heading to the Ocean
Turtle Hatchlings

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Additional Activities

Turtle Life Cycle: True or False Activity

This activity will help you assess your knowledge of the interesting life cycle of a turtle.

Directions

Determine whether the following statements are true or false. To do this, print or copy this page on a blank paper and underline or circle the answer.

True | False 1. Turtles are reptiles with a body encased in a bony shell that acts as a shield.

True | False 2. The female turtle provides care for the offspring once it is hatched.

True | False 3. A sea turtle lays around a hundred eggs into a nest dug underwater.

True | False 4. The offspring in some turtle eggs change gender based on the temperature of their nests.

True | False 5. Sea turtle eggs are rectangular in shape with very soft textures.

True | False 6. An animal that has emerged from an egg is called a hatchling.

True | False 7. Different species of turtles can remain juveniles for 10 to 50 years.

True | False 8. Turtle hatchlings leave their nests to locate the nearest food source.


Answer Key

  1. True
  2. False, because the correct statement is: The female turtle does not provide care for the offspring once it is hatched.
  3. False, because the correct statement is: A sea turtle lays around a hundred eggs into a nest dug in the ground.
  4. True
  5. False, because the correct statement is: Sea turtle eggs are spherical in shape with very soft textures.
  6. True
  7. True
  8. False, because the correct statement is: Turtle hatchlings leave their nests to locate the nearest water source.

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