There are many turtle facts that might fascinate you, especially if you have never really taken the time to know more about turtles. Turtles are interesting reptiles that have withstood the test of time, as they have been around for more than 200 million years, evolving before birds, crocodiles, lizards, mammals, and snakes.

Here are a few interesting turtle facts:

· The Latin word for tortoise, which is testudo, was also a name given to a technique used by Roman soldiers during warfare. The soldiers would huddle together and hold their shields above their heads to form a protective dome. This allowed them to approach the enemy and keep safe from the arrows, spears, and stones hurled at them.

· The oldest known tortoise is reported to have been from Madagascar. It was at least 188 years old before it died in 1965. It was given to the Tonga royal family by Captain Cook in 1773 or 1777.

· The turtle’s upper shell is called a carapace, and it is composed of about 60 bones. This includes bony skin plates, modified ribs, and vertebrae. The lower shell, called the plastron, has evolved from the turtle’s clavicles or collarbones, and the ribs. Joining the carapace and the plastron is a bony structure called the bridge.

· Turtles and tortoises do not have teeth; instead, their upper and lower jaws are covered by horny ridges. They also have rigid beaks and jaws that they use to cut and chew their food. They use their tongues to swallow food, but they can’t stick out their tongues to catch insects.

· Another of the many interesting turtle facts is that turtles can be found in every continent except on Antarctica.

· Turtles have a high-developed sense of sight and smell. Even their shells contain nerve endings.

· Aquatic turtles absorb oxygen through their neck and cloacal area, which allow them to remain underwater for extended periods and for hibernation.

· The earliest turtles could not retract their heads, but they did have teeth.

· Sizes and weight of turtles range from 4 inches like bog turtles and 1500 pounds like the leatherback turtle.

· Some species of turtle have five toes on each limb. Others have four or three only.

· Tortoises and turtles have short, sturdy feet. They move slowly because of the weight of their shell and their bent legs.

· Popular turtles kept as pets are Greek spur-thighed tortoises, red eared sliders, and Russian tortoises.

· Australian English refers to turtles as marine and freshwater species, and tortoises for terrestrial species. British English uses turtle if they live in the sea, terrapins if they live in fresh water, and tortoises if they live on land.

· Turtles are known as symbols of longevity. The organs of turtles do not break down or become less efficient as time passes. The liver, lungs, and kidneys of a centenarian turtle have been found to be indistinguishable from its immature counterparts.

Aside from the mentioned information, there are many more turtle facts that are not listed here.

Turtle Tanks Tip #1

Remember that turtles are not all alike. Each different species and sub species require different housing, feeding and water needs. Only after you have properly identified your turtle can you create the perfect environment for raising it. Therefore, your first concern should be to clearly identify what species your pet turtle is.

Turtle Tanks Tip #2

Aquatic turtles should be kept in aquariums that have fairly deep water, a basking area, and heat and light sources. Turtles that are mostly terrestrial still need to have some water but should not be kept in aquariums. They will be happier in wide wooden or plastic enclosures that contain the right substrate and a wading dish.

Turtle Tanks Tip #3

Be sure to wash and sterilize anything you pick up from the yard before placing it in the turtle tank. Don’t add any decorations in the tank that are sharp, pointed, or small enough that your turtle could potentially swallow them.