20 Surprising Facts About Turtles That You Didn’t Know

Facts About Turtles
Photo by Ralphs_Fotos

Did you know that turtles have been around for over 200 million years? If you didn’t, don’t worry – you’re not alone!

There are plenty of surprising facts about turtles that many people don’t know.

In this blog post, we’ll explore 20 facts about turtles that will surprise and educate you!

From their lifespan to their diet, get ready to dive into the wonderful world of turtles!

1. The turtle’s shell has 60 bones

Turtles have one of the most recognizable and iconic shells in nature. Many people don’t know that turtles’ shells comprise 60 individual bones, including ribs and vertebrae, connected by flexible cartilage. 

This fact is just one of the many facts about turtles that can be fascinating and surprising. From the various species of turtles to their unique eating habits, turtles are truly amazing creatures.

2. Turtles can’t come out of their shells

One of the fascinating facts about turtles is that they cannot come from their shells. This is because their shell is fused to their ribcage, making it impossible for them to remove themselves from it. The shell comprises over 60 bones and is covered with a thin, hard keratin layer, protecting against predators and other threats.

Even if they manage to get stuck in a narrow space, they can’t squeeze their way out because of the rigidity of their shell. So the next time you see a turtle, remember it can never escape its home.

3. Bigger turtles live longer

Turtles come in many different shapes and sizes, and size does play a role in how long they live. Bigger turtles, generally speaking, live longer than smaller ones. This is because bigger turtles are better able to protect themselves from predators and also have a higher reproductive rate, which can increase their lifespan. 

When considering what type of turtle to buy as a pet, it’s important to remember these facts about turtles. Larger turtles can live up to twice as long as smaller ones, but they are often much easier to handle due to their larger size. Additionally, they require more space and resources to ensure a comfortable life, so consider these factors before making your final decision.

4. Spanish sailors named Galapagos Island after the turtles they found there

Spanish sailors first discovered the Galapagos Islands in 1535, and they named them after the giant turtles they found there. This is one of the fascinating facts about turtles, as it shows how long they have inhabited this island chain. 

The Giant Tortoise species that inhabit the islands can weigh up to 900 pounds and have an average lifespan of over 100 years! These giant turtles have become one of the islands’ most iconic and well-known animals. As a result, the Galapagos Islands are often referred to as “Turtle Island” or “Islas de las Tortugas.”

5. The giant tortoise is one of the biggest species of tortoise

The giant tortoise is one of the most iconic species of turtle, and it is also one of the largest. It is found on several different islands worldwide, including the Galapagos Islands. They can grow up to six feet in length and weigh up to 550 pounds! These turtles have long lifespans, and some have been known to live more than 150 years.

This species of tortoise is known for its ability to withstand drought and harsh conditions that other species may not be able to survive in. There are many interesting facts about these giant tortoises, including their unique shell design, how they move around, and how they interact with their environment. Here are some amazing facts about turtles you should know:

6. Jonathan the tortoise is the oldest living animal on land

Jonathan is a Seychelles giant tortoise and the world’s oldest known terrestrial animal. He is estimated at least 184 years old, making him one of the oldest living animals known to man. Jonathan was moved to his current home, St Helena Island, in 1882, where he still lives.

Jonathan has become an international celebrity and an inspiring symbol of hope and resilience. His presence has contributed to raising awareness about the plight of turtles and other endangered species. Jonathan’s incredible age and health are evidence of the impressive capabilities of the species.

7. Turtles don’t have teeth

One of the fascinating facts about turtles is that they don’t have any teeth. Instead, their mouths are equipped with hard beaks, which they crush and chew their food. Turtles also use their beaks to dig burrows and sometimes even as weapons. 

Though they don’t have teeth, turtles still have tongues that they can use to pick up small prey or to lick surfaces to gather information. Despite the lack of teeth, turtles still have strong jaws, which they use to break down food. They also have sharp claws on their feet, which help them with the task of eating.

8. Turtles eat a wide range of food

Turtles are omnivores, meaning they will eat both plants and animals. Turtles feed on various foods, including insects, worms, snails, shrimp, small fish, algae, and aquatic plants. In the wild, many turtles have developed the ability to find food quickly. One interesting fact about turtles is that they smell their food in the water.

9. Snapping turtles are heavier than the usual turtles

Snapping turtles are one of the largest species of freshwater turtle, weighing up to 75 pounds and measuring up to two feet in length. They have a powerful beak and a pair of long claws that allow them to catch their prey easily. 

This larger size also makes them more formidable predators than other turtles. In comparison, the average turtle only weighs around 10 pounds and grows to a maximum of 8 inches in length. With their larger size, snapping turtles can eat more prey and defend themselves more easily. This is just one of the fascinating facts about turtles.

10. The leatherback turtle has a teardrop-shaped body

The leatherback turtle is one of the most unique-looking turtles in the world, with its teardrop-shaped body and a carapace that can reach up to 8 feet long. One of the facts about turtles is they are known for their incredibly large size and ability to dive deeply.

It’s also the world’s largest sea turtle, weighing up to 2000 pounds! This turtle species are endangered due to its vulnerability to human interference. Here are some more facts about the leatherback turtle that you should know: 

11. African Sideneck turtles are common turtle pets

African Sideneck turtles, also known as African Mud Turtles, are one of the most popular turtle species kept as pets due to their smaller size and docile temperaments. They are native to sub-Saharan Africa and can reach up to 8 inches in shell length. These turtles prefer shallow, slow-moving bodies of water but can also be found in ponds, rivers, and streams. 

Some facts about African Sideneck turtles include their omnivorous diet, which includes vegetation and small insects; their long necks that allow them to reach their food easily; and their unique shells, which are slightly domed and oval-shaped. 

Additionally, they have long claws that help them climb rocks and trees when they’re out of the water. African Sideneck turtles can live up to 25 years in captivity with proper care, making them a great choice for anyone looking for a loyal, long-term pet.

12. Softshell turtle has flattened shell

Softshell turtles are unique turtle species with an unusual, flattened shells. They have thin shells that feel rubbery to are usually covered in bumps or ridges. This flattened shape is designed for swimming, allowing the turtle to move faster through water and making it harder for predators to catch. 

Softshell turtles also have special adaptations that allow them to live on lands, such as webbed feet and powerful hind legs. Regarding facts about turtles, softshell turtles are interesting creatures with unique traits.

13. Chinese softshell turtle is commonly used in making turtle soup

Chinese softshell turtles are a species of freshwater turtles found in East and Southeast Asia. The Chinese softshell turtle has a thin and pliable shell, which makes it an ideal choice for making soup. It is also valued for its flavorful meat and eggs. 

In China, the Chinese softshell turtle is considered a delicacy and is often served in expensive restaurants. This species of turtle is also farmed for its meat, as well as for traditional medicines in some parts of Asia. These fascinating facts about turtles make them important to Chinese culture and cuisine.

14. Turtle’s penis can erect and increase in size

Turtles have an interesting reproductive organ: the penis. When mating, a male turtle’s penis will become erect and grow. This is due to a special process called hydromancy, which means that when the organ is filled with water, it expands and can become quite large. 

This amazing process is not exclusive to turtles and can be found in other animals, such as snakes and dolphins. Interestingly, female turtles also have a penis-like structure, which is not used for reproduction. These facts about turtles demonstrate how fascinating and unique these creatures are!

15. Turtles are cold-blooded

Turtles are ectotherms, relying on external heat sources to warm their bodies. This is why turtles are often seen basking in the sun or digging into the ground. Since their body temperature depends on the environment, they can go into dormancy during colder weather and emerge when it warms up. This adaptation helps them survive extreme temperatures and is one of the fascinating facts about turtles.

16. Turtles lay eggs annually.

Turtles lay eggs every year in the wild, although some species may not lay eggs every year. Turtle eggs are laid in a nest dug by the female turtle and buried under soil or sand. The number of eggs laid can vary depending on the species but usually range from 4 to 200. 

Turtles typically lay their eggs at night, and the mother turtle will not remain with her eggs once they are laid. After the eggs hatch, the baby turtles care for themselves and go to the ocean. These are just some fascinating facts about turtles that make them interesting creatures.

17. The incubation period of turtle eggs can be as fast as 45 days.

Next, on my list of facts about turtles, they lay their eggs in nests dug in the sand, and when the eggs hatch, the young turtles are ready to live independently. The incubation period of turtle eggs can be as fast as 45 days, depending on the environment and temperature. 

This is an important fact about turtles; a warmer environment can speed up the hatching process, while a cooler environment may take longer. The sex of a baby turtle is determined by the temperature at which its egg was incubated, with cooler temperatures producing male turtles and warmer temperatures producing female turtles.

18. Turtles can sleep underwater.

Turtles have a unique adaptation to survive underwater, and one of the fascinating facts about turtles is that they can sleep underwater. Turtles don’t need to come up for air as they can absorb oxygen through their skin from the water around them. 

They can hold their breath for several hours while they sleep, allowing them to stay submerged in water while they rest. Turtles usually sleep at the bottom of a pond or lake or on a soft ocean floor, where they are safe from predators. When they are sleeping, turtles are very still, and their eyes remain closed.

19. Large sharks are the common predators of sea turtles.

Turtles have had to adapt and develop ways to protect themselves from predators over the most common predators of sea turtles are large sharks. Sharks are known to attack adult and juvenile sea turtles, often resulting in serious injuries or death. 

Shark attacks on turtles can occur in shallow water, open oceans, and coral reefs. While it may seem like an unfair fight, sea turtles have some adaptations that can help them to survive against these apex predators. For instance, sea turtles have a hard shell that protects them from bites and abrasions. 

Additionally, turtles have an acute sense of smell and hearing, which can help them detect predators before they get too close. These facts about turtles show us just how important their defense mechanisms are for surviving in their natural habitats.

20. Turtles can dive to depths up to 960 feet.

One of the fascinating facts about turtles is their ability to dive deep into the ocean. Turtles have been known to dive up to 960 feet in depth, making them some of the deepest-diving marine animals. This incredible feat is possible thanks to their streamlined bodies and special adaptations that allow them to dive easily. 

For example, turtles can slow down their metabolism and hold their breath for up to seven hours! They also have a powerful set of flippers that helps them power through the water quickly and efficiently. This amazing diving ability allows turtles to explore the ocean’s depths, seeking food and hiding from predators.


These four amazing facts about turtles demonstrate these creatures’ uniqueness and resilience. Turtles are truly fascinating species, from their ability to sleep underwater to their impressive diving capabilities. Whether you’re looking for a fun fact to share with friends or want to learn more about turtles, these facts provide an interesting look into their world.

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