Tortoise Facts: Lesson for Kids

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Tiffany Hightower

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.

The tortoise is a unique creature with fascinating features. Read this lesson to learn interesting facts about the tortoise, including how it looks, where it lives, how long it lives and what it eats. Updated: 07/15/2019

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
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Giant Tortoise
Giant Tortoise

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.

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