Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tortoise, Turtle, or Terrapin?

Julep & Derby wanted to know if this is a ... 
Tortoise, turtle, or terrapin & 
I said  it's all geography ... my dear westies.
 Look at any shelled reptile.
Is it a tortoise, turtle, or terrapin?

What you call me or any of my relatives depends on 
  what we look like,   where we live, and   where you live. 
Before we get on with this, let's be clear that 
scientists like veterinarians
 and such have their own words for us. 
They call us all chelonians.

But ordinary people use ordinary words. 
The trouble is that sometimes you don't all mean 
the same thing even when you use the same words.
 What 'we' look like
We all have shells. 
But some of our shells are covered 
with scutes while others are have a leathery covering.
Some shells are domed, some are like saddles, and some are almost flat.

We all have four legs. 
But some of us have thick stumpy legs with stumpy feet. 
Some have webs between our toes.
Some have flippers that are hardly legs at all.

Of course we have other differences, too, or else our 
friends wouldn't be able to tell us apart. 

But these two differences (shells and feet) help to tell if someone
 is a tortoise, turtle or terrapin because what we look 
like helps you to know what our natural habitat is.
 Where 'we' live

We have three main habitats. . .
  We can live on land.    We can live in the sea.
  Or we can live sort of in between, spending time both on
 the land and in the water. 

Lots of us in this group live in brackish water.
That's water that is sort of salty, the water you find at a river 
mouth where it joins the ocean.
 Where you live
When you want to know if one of my relatives is a 
tortoise,  turtle, or terrapin, you have to know what 
the reptile looks  like and where it lives. 
Then you have to know what each group is 
called in your part of the world.

Tortoise, Turtle, or Terrapin?

Brackish Water
North America
Sea Turtle
Great Britain

 Our Tuesday morning excitement!
Just waiting for the turtle to round the corner.
 ... And on that note ...
this ends our tiny lesson on turtles for the day.
Have a great day & thanks for visiting.


  1. Tortoise Tuesday what fun. The water looks so inviting. Have a good day.
    Best wishes Molly

  2. Thanks for the lesson. Your little Westies are so cute watching!

  3. Cutie turtle! Have a great Tuesday!

  4. Love this post! And I love turtles too! That is a pretty one. I love how the doggies are watching it. They would have just loved being down there with it.