Tiffany is a certified elementary school teacher. She has a B.A. in English, education certification and a master's degree in education from Central Michigan University.
What's a Tortoise?
There's an animal that has been on Earth as long as the dinosaurs and usually lives to be over 150 years old! It's the tortoise, also known as a land turtle. Tortoises have lots of unique features including being able to live for months without food or water and having two skeletons. Let's take a closer look at this amazing creature.
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- 0:05 What's a Tortoise?
- 0:25 The Tortoise's Body
- 1:59 Where Do Tortoises Live?
- 2:21 What Do Tortoises Eat?
- 2:35 What is a Tortoise's…
- 2:51 Lesson Summary
The Tortoise's Body
Can you imagine walking around with a skeleton on the outside of your body? People don't have this feature because our skeletons, which provide support, protection, and a frame for us are on the inside of our bodies.
However, tortoises are unique animals that have a shell, which is their exoskeleton, on the outside of their bodies. This exoskeleton gives its body its hard shape that protects it. In addition, they have an endoskeleton, or inner skeleton, that gives the inside of its body structure and support too.
The shell is actually made of two parts: the top, known as the carapace, and the underneath, known as the plastron. These two pieces are fused together at the sides. In addition, the backbone and ribcage of a tortoise are connected to its shell, and although the shells are hard, tortoises are sensitive to touch.
Tortoises have special features for survival. A tortoise goes into its hard, protective shell when it feels it's in danger. Since they remain inside the shell for so long, they are able to empty out their lungs to survive for a long time without having to breathe. A tortoise's sense of smell is its main sense used to survive. It allows them to find food, mates, a safe place to nest their eggs, and to avoid predators.
Adult giant tortoises can grow to be almost as wide as a table, with a width of over 4 feet. Some of the largest adult giant tortoises can weigh over 650 pounds, which is over three times the weight of most human adults! The tortoise has a round head with a beak and no teeth. It also has a long neck that can stretch. It has short, stubby legs for walking or scooting around at a slow pace.
Where Do Tortoises Live?
Many tortoises live on the Galapagos Islands near South America and the Seychelles Islands near Africa. Although these tortoises have lots of water near their habitats, they do not swim like turtles do. There's also a desert tortoise which can be found in the Mojave and Sonoran deserts of the U.S. Unfortunately, tortoises are becoming endangered due to humans destroying their habitats, or homes.
What Do Tortoises Eat?
Tortoises are herbivores, which means they eat plants. Tortoises love to eat grass, weeds, dandelions, cacti, and many other plants. They even eat romaine lettuce like people eat in salads!
What is a Tortoise's Life Cycle?
Female tortoises lay small eggs in nests to reproduce baby tortoises. The eggs take a few months or more to hatch. Then, when baby tortoises are ready to hatch, they peck their way out of the egg using their tiny beaks. As they grow, they learn to survive on their own.
Let's review what we've learned. Tortoises are land turtles with lots of unique features. They have both an exoskeleton, which is their outer hard shell, and an endoskeleton, which provides structure for the inside of the body. Tortoises are some of the oldest living animals on Earth and can live to be over 150 years old.
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Tortoise Facts: Lesson for Kids
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