Get Your Head Out Of Your Shell And Celebrate World Turtle Day
Many of us have been introduced to this amazing reptile when we were just little kids. From the story of The Tortoise and the Hare to Franklin; from Oogway and Kung Fu Panda to Crush and Finding Nemo - we all fell in love with them.
On May 23, we turn our attention and love to World Turtle Day. We are encouraging every one of you out there to take action towards helping and protecting both the common pet turtle as well as the endangered species.
A Brief History of World Turtle Day
Susan Tellen and Marshall Thompson - founders of American Tortoise Rescue (ATR) - are the ones who created World Turtle Day back in 1990. It's a day meant to celebrate and protect all species of tortoise and turtle, as well as their natural habitats from around the world.
Since 1990, ATR has helped about 3000 tortoises find caring homes. They also provide helpful information to people with sick, neglected or abandoned turtles.
Fun Facts about Turtles and Tortoises
- Turtles have existed for about 215 million years.
- Turtles live and swim in the sea, while tortoises are land-based.
- A turtle’s shell is actually part of its skeleton. It’s made up of over 50 bones, including the turtle’s rib cage and spine. The upper shell is called a ‘carapace’ and the lower shell is called a ‘plastron'.
- In some species, the sex of the turtle is determined by the temperature of the environment. Warm temperatures lead to female hatchlings and cooler temperatures lead to males.
- Turtles can be carnivores, herbivores, or omnivores. Many baby turtles are carnivores and when they grow, they tend to eat more plants.
- There are seven species of turtles: the flatback sea turtle, green sea turtle, olive ridley sea turtle, loggerhead sea turtle, leatherback sea turtle, Kemp's ridley sea turtle, and hawksbill sea turtle.
- Sea turtles spend almost all of their time in the water. They also can’t retract their head or legs into their shell.
- Female sea turtles return to the nesting grounds where they were born to lay their eggs.
- Male sea turtles almost never leave the ocean.
- Sea turtles have glands that help to get rid of the salt from their eyes, which makes them look like they are crying.
- Sea turtles are victims of poaching and overfishing because their eggs, meat, skin, and shells are all considered valuable.
- Leatherback sea turtles love to travel, they can swim more than 10.000 miles every year.
- Leatherback sea turtles can get very heavy, weighing up to 2.000 pounds.
- There are many species of tortoise, including the now-extinct Abaco tortoise and the saddle-backed Rodrigues giant tortoise.
- Turtles can be found in most of the world's oceans, except for the Arctic and the Antarctic ocean.
- The oldest tortoise, Tu'i Malila died of old age at 188 years old.
- In the wild, both tortoises and turtles are put at risk by illegal hunting and poaching, oil spills, artificial light from coastal cities, and non-recyclable waste. As pets, these long-living reptiles can suffer greatly from improper care and handling.
How to Celebrate World Turtle Day
You can contact American Tortoise Rescue and see how you can help the cause. You can spread the word or even rescue/buy a pet turtle and take good care of him or her.
You can also make the day all about them, watch a cartoon, a movie, read a comic or a book about them. Here you can find the list of fictional turtles. You can also have a themed party.
Do you like turtles? Would you like to have one as your pet?