How To Tell If A Turtle Is Male Or Female

Do male and female turtles look the same?

Using Tails to Determine Gender – The most common way to determine gender in a turtle is to look at the length of its tail.   Female turtles have short and skinny tails while males sport long, thick tails, with their vent (cloaca) positioned closer to the end of the tail when compared to a female.

How do you tell if a box turtle is a boy or girl?

Eastern box turtles are a familiar resident in much of the eastern United States. Many of us, including myself, link these iconic reptiles to our childhood memories. Growing up in the suburbs of Cincinnati, I recall one particular box turtle (who had a missing limb, making the animal easily recognizable and something of a neighborhood celebrity) that made an appearance year after year, despite the missing appendage.

  • We assumed our shelled friend was male and referred to “him” as such, but I had no real way of knowing if that was the case.
  • So, how can one decipher between Mr.
  • Box Turtle or Ms.
  • Box Turtle? The next time you encounter a box turtle, observing the characteristics listed below can help you reveal the gender of the turtle.

Keep in mind, one or two characteristics is not enough to go on, Shelly, the Arboretum’s resident box turtle, was once named Sheldon on account of her deceptive eye color and shell. Once she laid an egg, however, a name change was clearly in order.

Eye color, Many people may base their assessment of gender on this factor alone, which is perhaps the most widely-known method. Generally speaking, male box turtles have red eyes while females’ eyes are brown. Shell and head coloration, Male box turtles, as with many other organisms of the male persuasion, are often more brightly and distinctively colored than their female counterparts. Concave or flat plastron, The underside of the shell, or plastron, is also a handy indicator to help reveal the gender. Males have a concave dip within their plastron (which helps the fella out during reproduction) while females generally have a flat plastron. Females, at times, can have a shallow concavity, so don’t rely on this characteristic alone. Rear claws, Females have longer and thicker rear claws to aid when digging a nest, which usually occurs in the evening hours. However, mother box turtles may have delayed implantation as they have been known to lay fertile eggs up to four years after mating!

So why bother knowing a box turtle in such a personal fashion? In the case of Arboretum staff, as well as other members of the Box Turtle Connection, this and other information (such as age, weight and length) are crucial in understanding the overall health of the box turtle population.

Since the Arboretum began monitoring box turtles in 2013, we have marked and released 39 adult individuals, 19 of those being female and the remainder being male (with another 13 juveniles that do not display the above characteristics). This fairly even ratio of males to females, as well as the presence of young turtles, is an indicator that the population of box turtles within the Arboretum is doing well.

However, the status of the Eastern box turtle, the official state reptile of North Carolina, is not faring so well overall. Habitat destruction, mortality from automobiles and diseases such as ranavirus are all taking a toll and leading to a decline in their numbers. Wildlife biologists rely on data from The North Carolina Arboretum and other members of the Box Turtle Connection to aid in their understanding of how these organisms are faring in our state. You can also serve in this regard by participating as a Citizen Scientist (everyday people who report observations of wildlife).

This can include submitting your observations to online citizen science resources such as the Carolina Herp Atlas and, On Saturday, May 21, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Arboretum will hold its third annual Box Turtle Day, Arboretum staff and guest presenters will demonstrate how box turtles are monitored using radio telemetry and other methods, and also discuss ways everyone can help box turtles.

The event will include family-friendly activities including crafts, stories and a hike along the Arboretum’s TRACK Trail, developed in partnership with the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s Kids in Parks, Whether it’s Mr. or Ms., box turtles are an important element to our ecosystem and your efforts can help play a major part in ensuring their survival.

Do turtles have male and female parts?

How do sea turtles mate? The male sea turtle climbs onto the female turtle’s back and holds on to her carapace with the long, sharp claws of his front flippers. The way he hooks on to the edge of the female’s shell often results in a scratched shell and bleeding wounds in the soft parts of her body.

  • Copulation can take place on the surface or under water.
  • Both male and females turtle reproductive organs are located at the base of their in their cloaca – a combined intestinal, urinary, and reproductive organ.
  • M ale sea turtles have a very long tail while female sea turtles have a short tail.
  • The male’s penis is located in his cloaca.

He reaches his tail underneath the posterior end of the female’s shell to inseminate her cloaca. A pair of green sea turtles mating in Maldives. Video © Sasha Haslim. : How do sea turtles mate?

Can turtles switch genders?

Figure 17.20 – Temperature-dependent sex determination in three reptile species: the American alligator ( Alligator mississippiensis ), the red-eared slider turtle ( Trachemys scripta elegans ), and the alligator snapping turtle ( Macroclemys temminckii ).

(After Crain and (more.) One of the best-studied reptiles is the European pond turtle, Emys obicularis. In laboratory studies, incubating Emys eggs at temperatures above 30°C produces all females, while temperatures below 25°C produce all-male broods. The threshold temperature (at which the sex ratio is even) is 28.5°C ( Pieau et al.1994 ).

The developmental period during which sex determination occurs can be discovered by incubating eggs at the male-producing temperature for a certain amount of time and then shifting the eggs to an incubator at the female-producing temperature (and vice versa).

In Emys, the last third of development appears to be the most critical for sex determination. It is not thought that turtles can reverse their sex after this period. The pathways toward maleness and femaleness in reptiles are just being delineated. Unlike the situation in mammals, sex determination in reptiles (and birds) is hormone-dependent.

In birds and reptiles, estrogen is essential for ovarian development. Estrogen can override temperature and induce ovarian differentiation even at masculinizing temperatures. Similarly, injecting eggs with inhibitors of estrogen synthesis will produce male offspring, even if the eggs are incubated at temperatures that usually produce females ( Dorizzi et al.1994 ; Rhen and Lang 1994 ).

Moreover, the sensitive time for the effects of estrogens and their inhibitors coincides with the time when sex determination usually occurs ( Bull et al.1988 ; Gutzke and Chymiy 1988 ). It appears that the enzyme aromatase (which can convert testosterone into estrogen) is important in temperaturedependent sex determination.

The estrogen synthesis inhibitors used in the experiments mentioned above worked by blocking the aromatase enzyme, showing that experimentally low aromatase conditions yield male offspring. This correlation is seen to hold under natural conditions as well.

  1. The aromatase activity of Emys is very low at the male-promoting temperature of 25°C.
  2. At the female-promoting temperature of 30°C, aromatase activity increases dramatically during the critical period for sex determination ( Desvages et al.1993 ; Pieau et al.1994 ).
  3. Temperature-dependent aromatase activity is also seen in diamondback terrapins, and its inhibition masculinizes their gonads ( Jeyasuria et al.1994 ).

One remarkable finding is that the injection of an aromatase inhibitor into the eggs of an all-female parthenogenetic species of lizards causes the formation of males ( Wibbels and Crews 1994 ). It is not known whether the temperature sensitivity resides in the aromatase gene or protein itself or in other proteins that regulate it.

  • One hypothesis is that the temperature is sensed by neurons in the central nervous system and transduced to the bipotential gonad by nerve fibers (see Lance 1997 ).
  • Another hypothesis is that aromatase activity may be regulated by Sox9.
  • This sex-determining gene is seen throughout the vertebrates, where its expression in gonads correlates extremely well with the production of testes.

When two species of turtles were raised at female-promoting temperatures, Sox9 expression was down-regulated during the critical time for sex determination. However, in the bipotential gonads of those turtles raised at male-promoting temperatures, Sox9 expression was retained in the medullary sex cords destined to become Sertoli cells ( Spotila et al.1998 ; Moreno-Mendoza et al.1999 ).

  1. The evolutionary advantages and disadvantages of temperature-dependent sex determination are discussed in Chapter 21.
  2. Recent studies ( Bergeron et al.1994, 1999 ) have shown that polychlorinated biphenyl compounds (PCBs), a class of widespread pollutants that can act like estrogens, are able to reverse the sex of turtles raised at “male” temperatures.

This knowledge may have important consequences in environmental conservation efforts to protect endangered turtle species.

Do turtles need a male to lay eggs?

Conclusion – Can tortoises and turtles lay eggs without mating? Not only can they lay eggs without mating, they almost certainly will lay eggs without mating. There ought to be fewer eggs produced like this than if the animals were sexually active but you should expect to see them at least once a year even with the most virginal of tortoises or turtles.

Do female box turtles lay eggs?

State Species of Special Concern – Description : The eastern box turtle is probably the most familiar of the 8 species of turtles found in Connecticut’s landscape. It is known for its high-domed carapace (top shell). The carapace has irregular yellow or orange blotches on a brown to black background that mimic sunlight dappling on the forest floor.

  1. The plastron (under shell) may be brown or black and may have an irregular pattern of cream or yellow.
  2. The length of the carapace usually ranges from 4.5 to 6.5 inches, but can measure up to 8 inches long.
  3. The shell is made up of a combination of scales and bones, and it includes the ribs and much of the backbone.

Each individual turtle has distinctive head markings. Males usually have red eyes and a concave plastron, while females have brown eyes and a flat plastron. Box turtles also have a horny beak, stout limbs, and feet that are webbed at the base. This turtle gets its name from its ability to completely withdraw into its shell, closing itself in with a hinged plastron.

  • Box turtles are the only Connecticut turtle with this ability.
  • Range: Eastern box turtles are found throughout Connecticut, except at the highest elevations.
  • They range from southeastern Maine to southeastern New York, west to central Illinois, and south to northern Florida.
  • Habitat and Diet: In Connecticut, this terrestrial turtle inhabits a variety of habitats, including woodlands, field edges, thickets, marshes, bogs, and stream banks.

Typically, however, box turtles are found in well-drained forest bottomlands and open deciduous forests. They will use wetland areas at various times during the season. During the hottest part of a summer day, they will wander to find springs and seepages where they can burrow into the moist soil.

Activity is restricted to mornings and evenings during summer, with little to no nighttime activity, except for egg-laying females. Box turtles have a limited home range where they spend their entire life, ranging from 0.5 to 10 acres (usually less than 2 acres). Box turtles are omnivorous and will feed on a variety of food items, including earthworms, slugs, snails, insects, frogs, toads, small snakes, carrion, leaves, grass, berries, fruits, and fungi.

Life History: From October to April, box turtles hibernate by burrowing into loose soil, decaying vegetation, and mud. They tend to hibernate in woodlands, on the edge of woodlands, and sometimes near closed canopy wetlands in the forest. Box turtles may return to the same place to hibernate year after year.

  • As soon as they come out of hibernation, box turtles begin feeding and searching for mates.
  • The breeding season begins in April and may continue through fall.
  • Box turtles usually do not breed until they are about 10 years old.
  • This late maturity is a result of their long lifespan, which can range up to 50 to even over 100 years of age.

The females do not have to mate every year to lay eggs as they can store sperm for up to 4 years. In mid-May to late June, the females will travel from a few feet to more than a mile within their home range to find a location to dig a nest and lay their eggs.

The 3 to 8 eggs are covered with dirt and left to be warmed by the sun. During this vulnerable time, skunks, foxes, snakes, crows, and raccoons often raid nests. Sometimes, entire nests are destroyed. If the eggs survive, they will hatch in late summer to early fall (about 2 months after being laid). If they hatch in the fall, the young turtles may spend the winter in the nest and come out the following spring.

As soon as the young turtles hatch, they are on their own and receive no care from the adults. This is a dangerous time for young box turtles because they do not develop the hinge for closing into their shell until they are about 4 to 5 years old. Until then, they cannot entirely retreat into their shells.

  1. Raccoons, skunks, foxes, dogs, and some birds will prey on young turtles.
  2. Conservation Concerns: The eastern box turtle was once common throughout the state, mostly in the central Connecticut lowlands.
  3. However, its distribution is now spotty, although where found, turtles may be locally abundant.
  4. Because of the population decline in Connecticut, the box turtle was added to the state’s List of Endangered, Threatened, and Special Concern Species when it was revised in 1998.

It is currently listed as a species of special concern. The box turtle also is protected from international trade by the 1994 CITES treaty. It is of conservation concern in all the states where it occurs at its northeastern range limit, which includes southern New England and southeastern New York.

Many states have laws that protect box turtles and prohibit their collection. In Connecticut, eastern box turtles cannot be collected from the wild (DEP regulations 26-66-14A). These regulations provide some protection for the turtles, but not enough to combat some of the even bigger threats these animals face.

The main threats in Connecticut (and other states) are loss and fragmentation of habitat due to deforestation and spreading suburban development; vehicle strikes on the busy roads that bisect the landscape; and indiscriminate (and now illegal) collection of individuals for pets.

  1. Loss of habitat is probably the greatest threat to turtles.
  2. Some turtles may be killed directly by construction activities, but many more are lost when important habitat areas for shelter, feeding, hibernation, or nesting are destroyed.
  3. As remaining habitat is fragmented into smaller pieces, turtle populations can become small and isolated.

Adult box turtles are relatively free from predators due to their unique shells. The shell of a box turtle is extremely hard. However, the shell is not hard enough to survive being run over by a vehicle. Roads bisecting turtle habitat can seriously deplete the local population.

Leave turtles in the wild. They should never be kept as pets. Whether collected singly or for the pet trade, turtles that are removed from the wild are no longer able to be a reproducing member of a population. Every turtle removed reduces the ability of the population to maintain itself. Never release a captive turtle into the wild. It probably would not survive, may not be native to the area, and could introduce diseases to wild populations. Do not disturb turtles nesting in yards or gardens. As you drive, watch out for turtles crossing the road. Turtles found crossing roads in June and July are often pregnant females and they should be helped on their way and not collected. Without creating a traffic hazard or compromising safety, drivers are encouraged to avoid running over turtles that are crossing roads. Also, still keeping safety precautions in mind, you may elect to pick up turtles from the road and move them onto the side they are headed. Never relocate a turtle to another area that is far from where you found it. Learn more about turtles and their conservation concerns. Spread the word to others on how they can help Connecticut’s box turtle population.

The production of this Endangered and Threatened Species Fact Sheet Series is made possible by donations to the Endangered Species-Wildlife Income Tax Checkoff Fund. Content last updated in November 2022.

Do female turtles always lay eggs?

Light Theme · Dark Theme As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. All product links on this page are monetized. A lot of new turtle keepers don’t realize this, but female turtles produce eggs even if there are no males around. The eggs will be infertile and will not hatch, but all healthy adult female turtles produce eggs. When a turtle is carrying eggs, she is said to be gravid, not pregnant.

  • I used the word “pregnant” in the title tag only because that’s what most new turtle keepers search for when looking for information about this topic.
  • It’s really not the right term.
  • So from now on we’ll use “gravid.” And unlike many amphibians, most species of turtles and other reptiles can’t reabsorb unfertilized eggs into their bodies.

When they have eggs, they have to expel them. If they don’t, they can get “egg bound,” which is also known as suffering from egg retention or dystocia. Dystocia isn’t just painful for the turtle. She can die from it. There are many reasons why turtles can get egg bound, but the most common reasons in the case of captive turtles are:

  1. Lack of the kind of place the turtle is looking for as an oviposition (egg-laying) site. Turtles are very particular about where they lay their eggs, and many turtles simply won’t lay them unless a suitable place is available. This is the number one reason for dystocia in captive aquatic turtles.
  2. Stress from living in a tank that’s too small, too overcrowded, doesn’t have the right temperature or lighting, or has poor water quality. The presence of other animals that would be predators in the wild, such as dogs or cats, can also cause turtles not to lay their eggs.
  3. Improper diet, especially inadequate calcium.
  4. Anatomical problems (problems with the turtle’s internal or external reproductive organs).

The most common reason for egg binding in gravid captive turtles, however, is lack of a suitable place for the turtle to lay her eggs. In nature, aquatic turtles lay their eggs on land in a particular kind of soil or mud, depending on the specie, when the season is right.

Why do turtles moan when they mate?

Seychelles giant tortoises moan when they mate. The male tortoise appears to enjoy himself, judging by his moans. But what about his female mate? Biologist Justin Gerlach, who runs a breeding center for giant tortoises in the Republic of Seychelles, observes their behavior daily.

  • If they are kept in small enclosures, Gerlach said, the females can’t get away – and the males are constantly harassing them.
  • So the females are very nervous, difficult to approach,” Gerlach said.
  • It seems as if the male tortoises are constantly forcing the females to have sex.
  • But are they really being forced? Do female animals feel anything during sex? Gray area Probably not much, says biologist Sebastian Baldauf, who has researched sexual selection, or how animals choose their mates, at the University of Bonn.

Baldauf told DW that for a variety of animal species, the sexual act probably doesn’t matter. “But no one really knows – this is a gray area,” he added. Scientific studies do exist. But it has proven difficult to measure what happens in the brains of female animals during sex – whether they experience pleasure or pain. The male giant tortoise moans when he is atop the female Image: picture alliance / dpa ‘Like business’ There are several scientific theories for why orgasm evolved in humans, including the notion that pleasure incentivizes reproductive activity, thus ensuring the species continues.

  1. It’s been proposed that among our closest relatives – the great apes – females may also feel pleasure during sex.
  2. Researchers have established that the vagina of some great ape females contracts during sex.
  3. And female bonobos make a specific call during sex.
  4. But this may simply be behavior that fulfills a specific purpose, such as stimulating the male to provide more sperm, Baldauf said.
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He added that it’s not clear whether this would really reflect a form of arousal, or rather a way to “stimulate the males to ensure that the chosen partner, who can bring benefits, can actually have offspring.” Bonobos have been observed masturbating Image: In any case, mating ensures that animals – males and females alike – spread their genes. While the search for a suitable partner to have offspring can often take a long time, the sexual act is typically fast and simple, according to Baldauf.

“With animals, sex is more like business,” he said. For both genders, it’s about having the most and best offspring. “So when two such partners meet, the male is keen to transfer his sperm and the female to receive it,” he added. Anthropomorphizing sexual selection We humans often falsely interpret the behavior of female animals during or shortly before sex.

One example is freshwater shrimp. With this domestic type of crustacean, the larger male grabs the female during the mating season and holds it, often for two to three weeks, until the female is ready for fertilization. During the entire time, the female fights the male in an effort to push it aside.

  • But Baldauf said that what looks like a defensive move on the part of the female is actually a process of sizing up the partner – whether or not he is strong enough to hold onto her.
  • Through this defensive maneuver, the female selects a mate that guarantees strong offspring.
  • So it’s not a case of rape or unwanted sexual activity as it may appear, but rather true sexual selection to ensure a desired trait,” Baldauf said.

Female Seychelles giant tortoises appear to select the best males by constantly “pushing” themselves around before sex, says Gerlach. “Gettin’ busy”: Whether or not junebugs experience pleasure during sex has not been clarified Image: picture-alliance/dpa “It’s true for some males that the females really don’t want him,” Gerlach said. “But it does seem there needs to be a bit of effort from the male,” he added.

Do male turtles mate?

Male Eastern Box Turtle from Salem, WV area photo by Mark B. Watson Species Description : This common turtle can have a carapace length of about 6″ (15 cm). They are usually brown or black with radiating yellow markings on each scute. The scales on the turtle’s body may be yellow, orange, or reddish.

Box turtles are called box turtles because they can withdraw their arms and legs, tail, and head into their shell and close up tightly. A hinge on the plastron allows them to do this. Males have a concave plastron, reddish eyes, and the cloaca is closer to the tip of the tail. Habitat : Box turtles are the most terrestrial of any turtle in West Virginia.

They are most often encountered during spring or summer after a rain shower. They are active during the day, wandering through forests or old fields in search of food – earthworms, berries, mushrooms, etc. During the fall, box turtles move to valleys where they bury themselves under the soil or leaf litter.

They hibernate in a shallow burrow in the soil. Like wood frogs and several other reptiles and amphibians, box turtles can survive freezing! Very cold periods during the winter may kill some turtles though. Box turtles, like most turtles, have very long lifespans. They can live for well over 100 years.

However, most probably do not live longer than 30 or 40 years in the wild. A major cause of death for this turtle is automobile traffic! Thousands and thousands of box turtles are killed by cars every year, though no one knows how this affects the species as a whole.

  1. Individual box turtles usually have home ranges about the size of a football field.
  2. Breeding Activity : Sexual maturity is reached by about 5-10 years of age.
  3. Mating occurs in spring, usually just after hibernation.
  4. The male chases the female, biting her on the neck, head, and edge of her shell.
  5. He may even roll her over on her back.

The male eventually mounts the female (see the picture above) and hooks his toes into the female’s shell. Males sometimes die as a result of falling on their backs during mating if they’re in a place where they can’t flip over again. Females store sperm, and may lay fertile eggs from one mating for up to four years! Eggs are usually deposited in May through July. The female digs a flask-shaped nest during dusk and four to five eggs are usually deposited, but two clutches may be laid per year.

  1. Incubation may take from 50 to 90 days, depending on temperature.
  2. Some clutches have been known to take up to 136 days to hatch.
  3. Like many turtles, box turtles have temperature-dependent sex determination.
  4. Clutches incubated at temperatures of 22.5-27.0 degrees C produce mostly males, while females are produced at 28.5 degrees C or above.

The hatchlings do not look like their parents! (see above picture by Jeff Davis) They have flat, brown shells with a yellow spot on each scute. Range : Box turtles can be found in every county. Status :

Do all turtles lay eggs?

Life Cycle – All turtles, including sea turtles, lay their eggs on land. Female turtles dig their nests in summer, typically in June or July. Some species will excavate a number of holes; these “false nests” may serve as deterrents for predators. After laying eggs in the hole and covering them with dirt, the female departs.

How long do turtles live?

How to Improve Your Turtle’s Lifespan – Fortunately, with proper research, commitment, and an established relationship with a veterinarian, turtles and tortoises can make great family pets. Many zoos and wildlife sanctuaries are overcrowded with relinquished turtles and tortoises, so always check these places when looking to adopt.

They will likely be able to help establish proper care of your turtle or tortoise as well! Below are some important aspects of turtle and tortoise care: Diet Most tortoises are herbivores, requiring a multitude of grass and grass hays, in addition to greens such as romaine lettuce, collard greens, mustard greens, and dandelion greens.

They should also be offered vegetables like green beans, zucchini, and squash. Commercially available pellets may be provided but they should not be the primary diet staple, as they can lead to kidney issues in tortoises. Most turtles are omnivores, eating plants and animal protein.

Pellets may also be provided to these species, but only less than 25% of their overall dietary intake. Turtles and tortoises both enjoy occasional fruit, but it should only be offered as a special treat and not more than 5% of their diet. Some favorites include mango, papaya, banana, cantaloupe, strawberries, and watermelon.

Calcium All captive turtles and tortoises require calcium supplementation. Work with your veterinarian to determine the best product for your pet. Housing Tortoises require shelter and large pens. They typically do best when kept outdoors, due to their large space requirement.

Tortoises cannot swim, so they should not have access to ponds or other deep water. They should have fresh, clean water daily to drink and soak. They can be escape artists, burrowing under fences, so caution must be taken when building their pen. Aquatic and semiaquatic turtles require large areas to swim, bask, and hunt.

Tank water quality is of primary importance, as they spend most of their time there. Good filtration, frequent water changes, cleaning, and water testing are all important to the aquatic and semiaquatic turtle’s longevity. Unclean water can lead to shell erosion, ulceration, dermatitis, infection, and death.

  • Temperature All species require specific daytime, nighttime, and basking temperatures that should be frequently monitored and adjusted as needed.
  • Aquatic species water temperatures are typically in the 75-85°F range.
  • Lighting Ultraviolet lighting is crucial for the health of most reptiles, including turtles and tortoises, because it allows proper calcium metabolism.

Veterinary care All turtle and tortoise species require at least one veterinary exam per year for a full physical exam, weight check, husbandry review, and general health assessment. Fecal samples should be checked more often for signs of parasites. As turtles and tortoises age, routine bloodwork can help determine internal organ function and other signs of disease. WRITTEN BY Lauren Jones, VMD Veterinarian Dr. Lauren Jones graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 2010, after receiving her bachelor’s degree.

Do female turtles flutter their claws?

Mating Signs – The fluttering claw movements that red-eared sliders sometimes exhibit is most often a courtship ritual or “mating dance.” It is most often males that exhibit this behavior, but not exclusively, so you can’t necessarily use this behavior to distinguish between males and females,

  1. When some male turtles try to woo females to mate, they approach them underwater and then the turtle will face the other and flutter or vibrate its front claws around the female turtle’s head.
  2.   When the female turtle catches sight of this and is amenable to the invitation, they drop to the aquatic floor.

At this point, the pair are ready to mate and fertilize. If a female is put off by all the fluttering, however, she may respond aggressively. Mating takes about 10 to 15 minutes, but turtles can spend another 45 minutes beforehand just fluttering and wooing.

  • Sometimes young red-eared sliders will shake their claws around in an attempt at wooing behavior, even though they’re not ready to mate.
  • Before maturity, the turtle can’t breed successfully, but he can practice claw fluttering so he’s ready when the time comes.
  • Instead of fluttering, some turtles take a more gentle approach, using their claws to softly stroke the female’s face rather than shaking.

The male’s claws, which are especially long (and noticeably longer than those of the females), are particularly suited to this special caress.

What is a female turtle called?

Sea Turtles-General What type of animal is a sea turtle? A reptile. Reptiles are cold-blooded animals, which have existed since Pre-historic times. What is a sea turtle? A sea turtle is an ocean dwelling, air-breathing reptile. They have a large shell called a carapace, four strong, paddle-like flippers and like all reptiles, lungs for breathing air. The characteristic beak-like mouth is used to shear or crush food. Their flippers are perfectly adapted for marine life. They spend the majority of their lives at sea, and exit only to bask (green sea turtles in Hawaii) or to nest (only the females). Sick sea turtles suffering from “cold stunning” for example may also be washed ashore. How many species of sea turtle exist? There are eight extant species:- The Loggerhead (Caretta caretta) Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) Black sea turtle (Chelonia agassizii) Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) Olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempi) Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) Flatback (Natator depressus) How long have sea turtles existed for?

Approximately 230 million years. Present day species have evolved from those living in Prehistoric times.

What was the first turtle? The first turtles appeared in the late Triassic period. The first sea turtles appeared in the late Jurassic era, approximately 65 million years ago. One of the oldest fossilised sea turtles is the Archelon sea turtle. What are the differences between turtles, tortoises and terrapins? “All tortoises are turtles, but not all turtles are tortoises.

All terrapins are turtles, but not all turtles are terrapins. Some turtles are just turtles.” The World of Turtles and Crocodiles Turtle – Water-dwelling, without claws and tend to have webbed feet for swimming. Sea turtles are especially adapted for aquatic life with flippers and stream-lined bodies that rarely leave the ocean (except to nest).

Other turtles live in fresh water such as ponds and lakes. They swim but can also climb onto the bank or logs to bask in the sun. In the winter they can burrow into the mud, where they go into torpor until warmer weather. Terrapin – Mostly water-dwelling creature with claws.

  1. Terrapins spend time in both land and water, but cannot be far from water- along rivers, ponds and lakes- often in brackish, swampy areas.
  2. The word terrapin is derived from the Indian word meaning ‘little turtle’.
  3. Tortoise – A tortoise is a land-dweller and eats low-growing shrubs.
  4. They have round and stumpy for walking on land.

They live in hot, dry habitats and dig burrows to escape the hot sun. How big was the largest sea turtle ever recorded? The largest species of sea turtle was the Archelon, which measured 7m in length and lived in Prehistoric times. Today, the largest living species is the Leatherback.

  • There are 2 sub-species, the Pacific Leatherback and the Atlantic Leatherback.
  • The Atlantic Leatherback is slightly larger than the Pacific population.
  • Leatherbacks measure an average of just less than 2m in carapace (shell) length.
  • The largest Leatherback ever recorded was a male found stranded (washed ashore) on the Welsh coast in 1987.

He measured almost 3m (291cm) from tip to tail and weighed 970 kilos. Which species of sea turtle is the smallest? The Kemp’s ridley sea turtle is the smallest species, measuring between 61 – 76cm carapace length and weighing approximately 36 – 45kg. What is the rarest of all sea turtles? The Kemp’s ridley sea turtle is the rarest species.

Recent estimates suggest there may be only 5,000 adult females, which survive today. Numbers declined to an all time low of approximately 550 adult females in 1986. These turtles nest primarily on one beach in Mexico. To increase their numbers, Scientists made efforts to establish a new nesting population in Texas by transplanting eggs from Mexico into sand in Texas and “head starting” hatchlings through raising them until they reached a size large enough to limit the likelihood of predation.

How can sea turtles be aged?

Patterns of growth rates in sea turtles have been difficult to assess, mainly because of a lack of methods available to age them. Techniques have been developed more recently that estimate age from the number of growth layers of bones. The humerus, one of the forelimb bones, gives the best indicator of age as they retain the greatest number of growth layers. There are limitations using growth layers for aging. In mature turtles, early growth layers are re-adsorbed, growth rates may not be constant and they are not necessarily annual. Growth studies have been conducted where a fluorescent chemical has been injected into adult sea turtles. When these turtles are located years later, the humerus has been examined beneath a microscope during biopsy, and growth layers are clear and countable.
Unfortunately, this technique has not been used on young turtles, so unless the turtles age is known for definite, these techniques will only ever provide estimates. Techniques for using bones to determine age are complicated, but are described in detail in articles included in the Bibliography. Currently there is no accurate technique available for aging sea turtles only methods for estimation are described in literature. How long do they live? No exact information is available. It is known that they are long-lived species, but only estimates are available. Leatherbacks may live for 30 – 50 years, whilst the smaller species may live for up to 75 years or more. What happens to the bodies of turtles that die? What happens to their bodies depends on which environment they die in. Of those, which die in the ocean, only a very small percentage wash ashore. The majority sinks to the bottom of the ocean where they are fed on by an array of other animal life including fish and worms, which strip the bones of dead flesh. Those, which die on land, may be eaten by a variety if organisms including birds, such as Vultures, ants, fly larvae, etc. Their bodies provide a good source of food to these creatures and the bones help fertilize the sand and provide it with Calcium.

How deep can sea turtles dive? Leatherbacks can dive to a depth of more than 1000m in search of their prey, jellyfish. The smaller species are unable to dive to such great depths. The Leatherback is adapted to deep dives because of its unique morphology. Unlike other sea turtles, the Leatherback lacks a rigid breastbone/ lower chest, allowing the chest to collapse during deep dives.

  1. There is a large amount of oil in the skin and the Leathery shell absorbs Nitrogen, reducing problems arising from decompression during deep dives and resurfacing.
  2. How long can a sea turtle hold its breath? And why do they drown? As sea turtles are air breathing reptiles, they need to surface to breathe.

Sea turtles can hold their breath for several hours, depending upon the level of activity. A resting/sleeping turtle can remain underwater for over 4-7 hours. Recent research has shown that some turtles can even hibernate in the sea for several months! However, a stressed turtle, for instance entangled in fishing gear, quickly uses up oxygen stored within its body and may drown within minutes through panic. Can sea turtles be kept as pets?

All species of sea turtle are classified on the IUCN Red List as threatened or endangered. As such, it is illegal to handle them or to keep one as a pet. Specific permits (under CITIES) are required to handle a sea turtle or its products and to house them legally (usually in Aquaria or Rescue Centres, which should provide adequate facilities to properly care for them). It would be very difficult for a member of the public lacking training and required facilities to correctly care for a sea turtle. Anyone discovered by the authorities to be keeping a sea turtle as a pet or in insufficient conditions is liable for prosecution.

Do turtles live shorter in captivity? Leatherbacks cannot survive for very long in captivity. They are big deep ocean dwellers and continually bump into the sides of whatever enclosure they are held in. Depending upon the conditions in which other species are maintained, they may live quite well, but usually sea turtles are housed in large numbers together.

  1. Being solitary animals, they bite each another and grow too quickly compared to natural conditions due to being fed on a high protein diet (often the wring diet in the case of Green turtles) and contact diseases.
  2. Because sea turtles are wild animals, it is better to leave them in the wild, in their natural environment, than to keep them in captivity under unnatural conditions.

Are there any diseases in sea turtles that are transferable to humans and vice versa? Numerous bacterial infections have been identified from sea turtles. One type of bacteria that is transferable between turtle and humans is Salmonella, present in all turtles (land, fresh water and sea turtle species).

  • It is advisable when handling a sea turtle to wear latex gloves or if not available, to thoroughly wash hands both before handling the turtle to rid of any bacteria on our hands, and after handling to rid of any bacteria on the turtle.
  • Sea turtles are highly sensitive creatures that are well adapted to their sea environment, but are easily stressed when they come into contact with man made pollutants, such as agricultural pesticide runoff.

Currently, one of the biggest threats to Green turtles in particular is a disease called “Fibropapillomatosis” or “FP” for short, although it has more recently been observed in other species of sea turtle. This is directly linked with areas of high levels of human activity and high levels of pollution.

Where can I feed or touch turtles? Sea turtles are wild animals and although they are kept in captivity in some Aquariums, they should not be touched or fed unless sick or injured and in need of captive care. Feeding and handling should only be done by trained individuals. Once the turtle has been successfully rehabilitated, it should be released back into the wild and will hopefully not come into contact with humans again.

Wild turtles should not be touched or fed. They may be resting, swimming or nesting when you see them, but should be left to their own devices. It is possible to touch a turtle when volunteering on a field project, but minimal handling is preferred. How fast do they swim? Sea turtles have been recorded swimming at speeds of 30mph (in bursts), but generally they swim at around 4 – 5mph.

  1. What is the fastest speed of a turtle on record? A Pacific Leatherback reached the fastest speed on record for a sea turtle.
  2. The turtle reached a swimming speed of 22 mph as it attempted to avoid a predator.
  3. How long can turtles stay out of the water? Nesting turtles can stay out of the water for several hours.

Sometimes sea turtles nest during the daytime and if the weather gets hot and they are unable to return to the sea, they dehydrate and suffer from heat stress. This may lead to death. How long can they stay under water? When active, sea turtles breathe every few minutes at the surface of the water.

  • When less active, e.g., when resting, they surface to breathe every couple of hours or so.
  • When sleeping, they may remain under water for 4 or more hours.
  • If stressed, for example, when caught in a fishing-net, they quickly utilize their oxygen and drown.
  • This happens because they can only breathe out of water.
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Do turtles make sounds and/ or communicate? I have heard them making sounds, but usually only those associated with breathing. All sea turtles are audible breathing when they are moving on the nesting beach and when they have contractions during egg laying.

  • Nesting Leatherback’s also sound as if they are “burping” sometimes! I haven’t heard turtles make any other sounds, even when being predated on by other animals.
  • Richard Reina who is an American sea turtle expert was asked this question in an interview.
  • His answer was that “we don’t know for sure if they communicate, but we think they probably communicate by sound and by sight.

They make sounds that one another can hear, and they find each other by listening.” Do sea turtles sleep? Yes. They sleep by floating at the surface of the water if in deep water, often amongst Sargassum weed or other floats as hatchlings. They sleep with their nostrils above the water, so they can breathe.

In shallower waters, such as on coral reefs, they often sleep in crevices by jamming themselves beneath coral or rocks. Here they must surface every hour or so to breathe, before returning to sleep some more. Do sea turtles have any kind of relationship with other marine life? The only relationships I am aware of are those with species, which co-exist with them, e.g., Remora fish, barnacles, crabs, cleaner fish, etc.

Are turtles naturally friendly? Do turtles fight? Turtles are naturally inquisitive and will explore people in their own environment and when in captivity. They do not like being closely approached in their marine environment however, and will quickly swim away when they feel harassed or threatened.

They are solitary animals and when in captivity they will fight (bite) each other. What is a Male/ Female turtle called? There is no name given to a male or female turtle. They are just referred to as turtles. What is a baby turtle called? Baby turtles are called “hatchlings” because they have recently “hatched” out of their eggshells.

What is the term used to describe a group of turtles? There is no widely used term for a group of turtles, although some call a group a “bale” or a “flotilla”. How can you tell the difference between a male and a female turtle? Turtles cannot be sexed until they reach sexual maturity.

At this stage, they can be sexed based upon the length of their tail. A male’s tail extends way past the back of the carapace. A female’s tail is much shorter and only extends a little past the end of the carapace. A male’s plastron (under shell) is also slightly indented/ concave. What is cold stunning? Cold stunning describes a condition, which sea turtles enter when they experience extremely cold water temperatures (7 – 10º), which makes them lethargic and unable to function normally.

They float on the waters surface and are unable to dive and feed. In severe cases they may die.

This is a juvenile loggerhead turtle that was found as a “cold-stun” in winter in North Carolina, and was brought into captivity for rehabilitation before eventual release. © 2003 Matthew Godfrey

What is a turtle’s shell made of? Individual bones covered with Keratin form the shell of a sea turtle. Do all turtles have shells? Yes, although the type of shell differs amongst species. Leatherbacks have a leathery shell, which isn’t a hard, solid shell like other sea turtle species have.

A Leatherback’s shell also has no ‘scutes’ or plates. Can a turtle remove its shell? No. A sea turtles shell consists of bone from fused ribs and vertebrae (back bones) covered in Keratin (the material human finger nails are made of). Although on the outside of the turtle, the shell is very much alive and forms the turtle’s only form of from would-be predators’.

Where can I find more information about sea turtles? A good place to start is right here at EuroTurtle and then on the Internet. You can search for most subjects on search engines such as “Google”. Some good websites include “Turtle Trax” and “The Marine Turtle Newsletter”, which is a monthly newsletter about sea turtles, also available on the Internet.

  1. Otherwise, there are literally hundreds of books available on sea turtles.
  2. A good beginners book is by Jeff Ripple entitled “Sea Turtles” (see reference list below for the full reference).
  3. Habitat and migrations How far south can we meet turtles – and how far north? The sea turtle with the widest distribution of any reptile is the Leatherback.

It has been recorded as far South as Antarctica and as far North as Norway. Can sea turtles live in fresh water and salt water? When in captivity, sea turtles should be maintained in water with a salinity level falling within a range of that of normal, natural, incoming seawater.

  • Short periods of holding sea turtles in fresh water can be tolerated and are useful when prescribed by a veterinarian, e.g., to remove parasites and fouling epibiota such as barnacles.
  • However, prolonged periods in fresh water should not be encouraged.
  • Sea turtles are meant for life in the sea, so they do best in an environment with a similar salinity.

Species is most common in the Mediterranean?

The Loggerhead is the most common species. The largest nesting assemblage is on the Greek Island of Zakynthos, on a private nesting beach of less than 600 metres. This beach is the most densely nested Loggerhead beach in the World, with almost 200 emergences recorded every night during peak nesting season!

Where can you see turtles in the wild? Sea turtles inhabit most temperate, tropical and sub tropical seas and oceans of the World. They can be found swimming out in the ocean, but more commonly near shore during their breeding seasons. The Greek Island of Zakynthos is a good place to see sea turtles near shore, as is Barbados.

How do hatchlings and adults locate the ocean? Sea turtles are ‘phototactic’, meaning that they are attracted to light, and so head towards the brightest light, which in nature is the moonlight reflecting on the sea, or the white surf line. They orientate themselves towards the seaward (bright) horizon.

Turtles avoid shadows, including vegetation at the back of the beach, places where danger could lie. Communication with other species Do sea turtles have any enemies? Sea turtles have many enemies. Their main threat is humankind. We are responsible for damaging and destroying their nesting beaches, polluting their habitats (their sea’s and ocean’s), which results in them contracting diseases such as Fibropapillomatosis.

We slaughter them for their meat, shells, bones, and other by-products. We harvest their eggs, kill hundreds of thousands of them annually through catching them accidentally in our fishing nets, injure or kill them through incidental boat strikes, etc. Other animals and insects predate on them at different life stages.

Ants, crabs, gulls, raccoons, dogs, fish, etc. all feed on sea turtles during their various life stages. Which species of animals prey on eggs and hatchlings? The animals that prey on hatchlings in the Mediterranean depend on the location but include seagulls, crabs (particularly Ghost crabs), red foxes and fish.

  1. In addition to these natural predators, stray dogs also pose a threat.
  2. Eggs are predated on by red foxes, rats, raccoons, dogs, and insects, including various species of fly larvae (maggots).
  3. Birds and crabs become predators following exposure of the eggs by the mammals mentioned above.
  4. What is a Remora? A remora is a pelagic (open ocean) fish found in warmer areas.

Remoras attach themselves to sea turtles and other marine animals through a suction disc located on the top of their head. As they lack a swim bladder, attaching themselves to larger marine animals enables them to travel through the oceans. They are not parasites.

They remove parasitic organisms and pose no threat to their host. For this reason, they are referred to as a type of “cleaner” fish. What are the white organisms attached to sea turtles and their tags? The white organisms may be a type of barnacle (a crustacean, which at the adult stage attaches itself to a solid surface).

They are often found attached both to the hard and soft parts of a sea turtle and/ or their flipper tags. Biologists are researching into whether barnacles negatively affect sea turtles. Their presence can make tag reading difficult, or impossible. What species interact with loggerhead sea turtles? Although sea turtles are solitary animals, Loggerheads have been known to visit cleaning stations where omnivorous fish feed on the micro-organisms found on turtles soft and hard body surfaces.

Are turtles monogamous? No. Turtles mate with numerous turtles during the course of a breeding season.

How do sea turtles return to the vicinity of their natal beach to nest? There are several theories as to how they locate this area, but none have yet been proven. The most common theories are: Theory 1) Detection and utilisation of the Earth’s magnetic field: Sea turtles may have the ability to detect the angle and intensity of the Earth’s magnetic field and utilise these characteristics to determine their latitude and longitude, enabling navigation of hundreds, even thousands of kilometres.

Recent studies confirm the ability of sea turtles to detect the Earth’s magnetic fields. Current research is determining whether they use this ability to navigate. Theory 2) Natal homing/ imprinting (Carr): It is widely believed that hatchlings imprint the unique qualities of their natal beach whilst in the nest and/or during their first trip from the nest to the sea.

Beach characteristics used may include smell, low-frequency sound (possibly the noise of the surf), magnetic fields, the characteristics of seasonal offshore currents and celestial cues. Theory 3) Social facilitation (Hendrikson): Female turtles may follow older, experienced nesting turtles from their feeding grounds to the rookery (breeding site).

The nesting process consists of 8 stages. Firstly, the turtle emerges from the sea and ascends the beach, searching for a suitable nesting site (somewhere dark and quiet). Once at the chosen nesting site, she begins body pitting (BP). Using all four flippers, she gets rid of dry surface sand beneath her which would otherwise fall into her egg chamber (EC) (forming a depression). Following BP, she commences digging her nest (DN). Now she uses only her rear flippers, alternately, like hands, and scoops out flippers full of damp sand. She scoops sand in one flipper and rests this flipper on the surface, before throwing sand from her other flipper to her side.
She uses her emptied flipper to remove more sand from inside the EC and flicks excavated sand from her other flipper. When she can reach no deeper, she pauses and begins contractions, her rear flippers raising off the sand’s surface simultaneously. Soon she begins laying eggs (LE). Following each contraction, she drops between 1-4 eggs into the EC in quick succession. The eggs will almost fill the EC. Once her clutch is complete, she closes the nest (CN). Using her rear flippers in the same way as she did during the DN process, she places sand inside the EC, until the eggs are completely covered. She gently pats the damp sand on top of her eggs, using the underside of her shell (plastron). The camouflaging (CA) process now begins. Slowly moving forward, she throws dry, surface sand behind her. This is an effort to conceal/camouflage the location of her eggs from would-be-predators. She may travel in this way for over 3m. When the turtle ceases CA, she descends the nesting beach, and heads for the sea. Lastly, she enters the sea, and swims away from the beach. Do sea turtles become entranced when nesting? No. It is a commonly stated myth. The nesting process is difficult, tiring and time consuming. As sea turtles flippers are well adapted for their marine life, they are not well adapted for use on dry land, making movement clumsy. Although turtles will abandon the nesting process if they are disturbed and feel threatened, due to the effort involved, once egg laying (ovipositing) has begun, they are less likely to abandon their nest. However, if ovipositing has not begun, they are more likely to abandon nesting efforts, and return to the sea, in which case they will attempt nesting later that same night or within 1-2 days of the original attempt. What do sea turtle nests look like? Turtle nests are “flask” shaped; narrow and elongated at the top and wider and more rounded at the bottom. The depth of a nest depends upon the species, with larger turtles like the Leatherback constructing nests between 80cm-over 1m deep. Smaller species such as the Olive Ridley construct shallower nests to a depth of approximately 30cm. A turtle will dig down into the sand until she can reach no deeper. The nest of a Leatherback differs from that of other turtles in that instead of being rounded at the bottom, it is almost rectangular in shape. How many eggs do sea turtles lay? Depending on species, they may lay clutches containing on average 50-160+ eggs, and may lay more than one clutch in a season. Flatback turtles (endemic to Australian waters) lay the smallest clutches (approximately 50 eggs per clutch). Hawksbill turtles lay the largest clutches, which may contain over 200 eggs! What do sea turtle eggs look like? They are the size and shape of ping-pong balls with a soft shell. Usually eggs are spherical in shape, although occasionally, they are mis-shaped (elongated or adjoined with calcium strands). Some sea turtles lay small infertile eggs, which only contain albumin (egg white). The Leatherback turtle lays some of these small eggs in every clutch, whereas the other species of sea turtle lay these eggs infrequently.


Do turtles care for their young? There is no parental care given to young turtles from their Mothers. Mother turtles simply lay their eggs on the nesting beach and depart after concealing their nests from would be predators. The young hatch out and have to fend for themselves as soon as they depart their nest.

What determines the sex of a sea turtle? The temperature of the nest determines a hatchlings sex. This is called ‘temperature -dependent sex determination’ (TSD). Warmer temperatures produce mostly females, and cooler temperatures produce a majority of males.

As hatchlings are so small, and the egg chambers from which they emerge are deep (between 30cm to 1m+ depth, depending on species), it would be impossible for a single hatchling to escape from the chamber alone. As hatchlings break free from their eggs inside the egg chamber, they stimulate other hatchlings to emerge from their eggs simultaneously. Once most hatchlings have emerged from their shells, they climb on top of the discarded eggshells. Hatchlings higher up the egg chamber scratch down sand from above and around them. The hatchlings make use of this sand and the discarded eggshells, like an elevator and ascend the egg chamber. Hatchlings beneath push those above out of the egg chamber. They emerge en masse or in small groups. Emerging together increases the chance of survival as many hatchlings can overwhelm would-be predators. A single hatchling would be an easy meal.

Which species nest in the Mediterranean? Three species are found in this region: Loggerheads, Greens and Leatherbacks, but only Loggerhead and Green turtles nest here. The Leatherback is an occasional visitor to the waters of the Mediterranean, but does not nest there.

Do sea turtles ever lay eggs underwater? Sea turtles lay eggs (oviposit) on sandy beaches. Their eggs breathe air through their membranes and so cannot survive if they are continuously covered with water. Nesting turtles sometimes abandon nesting if they are disturbed and are scared back to sea, but they usually try to nest again elsewhere later that night or within 1-2 days of the failed attempt.

Turtles disturbed during several nesting attempts may abort their eggs in the sea if they can’t carry them any longer. Once a clutch of eggs is ripe, they must be deposited, to allow for development of another clutch. Captive turtles have been known to drop eggs into the water.

Do sea turtles court before mating? Most sea turtle studies have focused on land when the females nest, for ease of observation. Little research has been conducted in the sea, so there is limited knowledge on their behaviour in the water. It is known that sea turtle “courtship” usually occurs offshore the nesting beach.

Males approach any female turtle, and occasionally logs, and scuba divers who resemble the females! Several males compete for the same female. She mates with them during the breeding season, and has the ability to retain their sperm from one season to the next.

  • She uses the sperm of several males to fertilise her clutches, increasing the gene pool.
  • Further studies are needed on courtship behaviour.
  • What are arribadas? What are names and locations of some beaches where arribadas occur? “Arribada” means ‘arrival’ in Spanish.
  • It describes a mass-nesting event of the ridley sea turtles.

Such an event occurs when large numbers of turtles have gathered off shore to form a “flotilla”. Then they emerge from the sea en masse and nest synchronously over the course of 3 – 7 days. There used to be arribadas with 40, 000 + turtles on one beach on one day in Mexico in the early 1960’s.

Sadly today, although they do still occur, numbers have decreased dramatically, mainly through poaching, to only a few thousand nesting females. In other areas numbers have dwindled to the point where arribadas no longer occur on beaches that used to experience them. Today, arribadas occur in places such as Ostional, Costa Rica, Rancho Nuevo, Mexico and Devi, India.

Do hatchlings bond with each other? Sea turtles are solitary animals. Although they hatch together in large numbers, and make use of each other to ascend the nest, they enter the sea alone. They do not leave a beach in a group, but are transported by the waves to wherever the current flows.

  • Sometimes they may be found together floating in a ‘sargassum’, or some other ‘raft’, however they remain solitary.
  • Sea turtles may congregate at feeding grounds or developmental habitats, but solely for the purpose of feeding on the food sources present.
  • When turtles are held in captivity as hatchlings, they do not appear to ‘bond’ with each other.

When larger turtles are held in one tank they can be aggressive towards one another and will bite. Is there a relationship between body size and clutch size? The relationship differs amongst species. Flatback turtles (endemic to Australia) produce small clutches, much smaller than those of other turtle species.

This is likely due to their shell shape being flatter and therefore narrower than other sea turtle species. Soft shelled Leatherbacks produce relatively small clutches compared to the smaller hard-shelled sea turtles, they are the largest of all sea turtles. Clutch size has been found to have a positive relationship with shell size in Green turtles and in some populations of Loggerheads.

With Olive ridleys there is a positive relationship between clutch size and shell size. This relationship makes sense because the larger the body size, the more space there is for eggs to develop internally. Sea turtles basically become egg producing machines during the breeding season, and have several clutches developing at a given time.

However, body to clutch size relationships vary, even within a nesting season a turtle may lay clutches of varying size. Feeding What do sea turtles eat and do they have teeth? Each species feeds on a diet specific to that species. For example, Loggerheads feed mainly on hard-shelled organisms such as lobsters, crustaceans, and fish, Green turtles prefer sea grasses and Leatherbacks feed exclusively on jellyfish.

Plastic bags are often mistaken by turtles for jellyfish and are eaten. Plastic may accumulate inside a turtles gut and make the turtle feel full, when in fact it is hungry, this may result in starvation. Plastic may also lead to suffocation. Although Green sea turtles jaws are serrated, all sea turtles jaws lack teeth. What is the diet of sea turtles in the Mediterranean? Loggerhead turtles generally feed on both plants and animals but they are mainly carnivorous. Their diet contains various species of algae, including Sargassum weed, which as hatchlings they also utilize as a ‘float’.

  1. After emerging from their nests, leaving the beach, and moving into the open sea, they drift into deeper water which carries them into the Sargassum weed.
  2. This weed provides them with cover from would be predators and collects floating objects including zoo and phytoplankton which they feed on.
  3. Loggerheads jaws are adapted to eating hard objects, such as crabs, barnacles, Lobster, bivalves, whelks, conchs and sea urchins.

They can easily crush the hard shells of these animals. They also feed on sponges, jellyfish, shrimp, fish and fish eggs, as well as on a variety of plants, so they are classed as generalists. Unfortunately, loggerheads also eat waste products such as plastic and rope, which they mistake as food items.

What do turtles drink for liquid intake? All sea turtles drink only seawater all of their lives. They have special glands behind each eye, called “salt glands” that they use to get rid of all the salt from the seawater. When they drink the salt water the salt enters the blood and is transported to the salt glands that then produce a solution that contains about twice the concentration of salt as the seawater they drank.

This concentrated solution comes out from the corner of the eye as salty tears and is washed away. In this way they can drink seawater, get rid of the salt in their tears and have about half the amount of seawater left as freshwater to use for their physical requirements. What are the main threats to Mediterranean sea turtles? Anthropogenic (human caused) threats are numerous and include degradation and/or loss of nesting habitat, sand compaction through driving vehicles on nesting beaches, sand raking and/or removal, marine pollution and disease, incidental catch by fisheries (specifically shrimp trawlers and long lines), boat strike by speeding boats, tourism development, etc.

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Currently, the biggest threat to sea turtles is fishing activity, with incidental catches of thousands of turtles each year. What is the importance of sea turtles? Why try to conserve them? Sea turtles are one of the longest living groups of animals to have ever existed, having far outlived the Dinosaurs.

They have existed for approximately 200m years, and survived perfectly well until human activities placed them under increasing pressure. They act as environmental indicators. When populations are healthy (disease is uncommon), it reflects on the health of their marine habitat.

They feed on a variety of organisms, e.g., Hawksbills eat sponges and corals, providing space for reef colonisation by other organisms, increasing species diversity. They feed other organisms, e.g., insects, crabs, fish, etc. which prey upon them at various life stages. Nutrients turtles produce through digestion feed other organisms.

They provide a habitat for an array of animals including cleaner fish, and various barnacle species, some of which are exclusive to sea turtles. Sea turtles are an intricate part of their ecosystem. If they are wiped out, many organisms dependant upon them will also be affected.

  • Sea turtles make substantial nutrient and energy contributions to beaches, promoting plant growth, stabilising beach and dune systems.
  • Green sea turtles graze seagrass beds, increasing the productivity of those areas.
  • Leatherback turtles are major jellyfish predators, providing natural ecological control of jellyfish populations.

If the decline in sea turtle populations is allowed to continue, it could have severe consequences on many marine and terrestrial plant and animal species that depend on sea turtles for their survival. Furthermore, sea turtles are a flagship species, which means they are a species chosen to represent an environmental cause conserving the marine ecosystem and wildlife.

Chosen for their charismatic nature, distinctiveness and vulnerable status, sea turtles engender public support and thus assist leverage of the entire ecosystem and associated species. Are turtles endangered? Out of the seven types of sea turtles in the world, unfortunately six of these are on the redlist as either endangered or critically endangered.

According to the IUCN Red List Loggerhead Caretta caretta- Endangered Green turtle Chelonia Mydas- Endangered Hawksbill Eretmochelys imbricate- Critically Endangered Kemp’s Ridley Lepidochelys kempii- Critically Endangered Olive Ridley Lepidochelys olivacea- Vulnerable Leatherback Dermochelys coriacea- Critically Endangered For more information on IUCN Red List data visit: Have any species of turtles become extinct? Not since Prehistoric times have any turtles become extinct, however modern sea turtles such as the Kemp’s Ridley may be very close with only several hundred remaining.

What is being done to protect turtles? There is a global sea turtle community of over a thousand specialists; these dedicated individuals and organizations often dedicate their life work to monitor and assessing nesting beaches and through rehabilitation to ensure that sea turtles continue to grace our seas.

Research projects, public awareness campaigns, environmental education, nesting beach assessment and more all contribute to disseminating and propagating information about the importance of conserving sea turtles. Does global warming affect turtles? Yes, global warming will have a significant impact on the resilience and sustainability of sea turtle populations.

Visit our Sea Turtles and Global Warming section for more information: Sea Turtles & Global warming Where can I get or buy a turtle? It is possible to purchase tortoises or terrapins from many pet stores around the World. They should only be purchased if proper care can be given and husbandry requirements can be well met.

Under CITIES (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), it is illegal to touch or keep a sea turtle, unless you have specific permits which give you permission to do so. Only a few Aquariums, Zoo’s and Rescue/ Rehabilitation Centres are permitted to maintain sea turtles for their care and public display.

  1. Contact British Chelonia Group: Can I volunteer to help turtles? Yes.
  2. There is hundreds of sea turtle research and conservation projects around the World, which depend upon volunteer assistance for donations of both time and money.
  3. MEDASSET is such an organization.

Please email us at this address if you would like to volunteer with us: – [email protected] EKAD, a Turkish NGO has pioneered volunteering on sea turtle nesting beaches in Turkey so visit: and contact: [email protected], Otherwise, Google will bring up an array of such projects if you search on the Internet.

  • I would like to gain experience working with turtles.
  • How can I work with turtles? To gain experience and hands-on experience with sea turtles you could start with a volunteer programme that works directly with sea turtles.
  • Once you gain more experience and knowledge you could apply for a seasonal position, often advertised on the C-TURTLE list serv.

How can I find a job that deals with turtles? The best place to start is or as it is the primary website that supports research and conservation efforts in the sea turtle community. How do my donations help turtles? Without donations and generous individuals, research, monitoring, public awareness and rehabilitation efforts would not be able to be sustained.

Your donations help to sustain these efforts so crucial in ensuring that scientific knowledge and public consciousness continues to grow. Monitoring/research How are sea turtles tracked in the ocean and how long can they be tracked for? Researchers track sea turtles through a process called “satellite telemetry”.

A transmitter (small computer) is attached to the turtle’s carapace (on hard shelled species) or is worn as a ‘backpack’ (fastened around) a Leatherback. The transmitter emits signals of information to an orbiting satellite when the turtle surfaces to breathe or bask.

The information in the signals is de-coded prior to being forwarded to receiving stations on Earth, and then it is sent to the researchers computer as a dataset. This data provides information on the turtle’s location, number of dives during the last day, length of the most recent dive, water temperature, etc.

Data received over a period allows for tracking a turtles movement patterns and swimming speed. Usually, satellite transmitters are attached to gravid (egg bearing) females that come ashore to nest. Tracking has provided important information on migration routes between breeding and foraging (feeding) habitats.

Length of tracking depends upon how long the device remains on the turtle (they may be knocked off or fall off) and on battery life. Tracking usually continues for 6-10 months, although cases have been reported exceeding 2 years. How and why are sea turtles identified? Both external and internal markers (tags) are used to enable the identification of a specific individual.

External tags are made from metal (monel or inconel) or plastic. Internal tags are called “Passive Integrated Transponder tags” or “PIT tags”. These are microchips consisting of metal and glass. Both external and internal tags display a unique series of letters and numbers, a bar code, eg, ZA214.

External tags are clipped onto the turtles’ flipper(s), and are clearly visible to the eye. On the back of flipper tags is the address of the organisation applying the tags. Tags found can be returned with details of date and location when found together with information on the turtle, e.g., whether it was nesting, dead, etc.

PIT tags are more expensive and only visible through the use of expensive scanning equipment, which when held over a PIT tag, displays the tag code. Only one PIT tag is needed for each animal and is injected into the turtles shoulder muscle. They are more secure than external tags as they cannot fall off and get lost.

By using tags information can be collected on where the turtle was tagged, the number of nests constructed in a season, growth rates, fecundity, etc. How do scientists determine how a turtle died? Cause of death can be determined by conducting a ‘necropsy’. This is a turtle’s autopsy. By removing the outer shell of the turtle, the inner organs can be studied in detail.

Although external trauma may be obvious through direct observation, e.g., shell breakage, limb amputation, bite marks, etc., necropsies allow observation of otherwise unseen, internal trauma, e.g., disease, refuse presence (plastic), etc. How are sea turtle nesting beaches and migration routes discovered? Discovering potential sea turtle nesting beaches has been a component of MEDASSET’s work in the Mediterranean for over 25 years now in countries such as Libya, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt.

Sea turtles select their specific nesting site through a complex procedure involving a multitude of factors, including many natural ones (e.g. geomorphology, beach inclination, moisture content, sea and sand temperature, sand compactness). The process of finding nesting beaches involves scientific assessments of beaches, investigating the many natural factors and assessing whether human impact could be a deterrent (presence of boats, lights, noise, pollution, development etc.).

Speaking with the local community and fisherman can provide insight into whether nesting occurs now or whether it has in the past. Sea turtle’s migration routes can be found using satellite tracking from an electronic transmitter fitted on the turtle’s carapace.

Costa Rica has the most structured volunteer programmes with the huge amount of sea turtles voyaging to their nesting beaches every year. This of course includes the leatherback sea turtle, a most incredible sight to see! I would foremost suggest CCC’s volunteer programme: In Brazil, Project Tamar accepts volunteers:, Project Tamar has been enormously successful in Brazil by turning sea turtle poachers and fisherman into nesting guards and educators! This innovative approach has now been adopted around the world. If you would like somewhere closer to Europe, visit EKAD’s volunteer program on the nesting beaches of Turkey: Or ARCHELON on Zakynthos, Greece has volunteer programs or just visiting the nesting beaches will allow you to spot a loggerhead sea turtle. For an excellent online resource check out, This page has sea turtle programs in Cuba, Brazil, Australia, Ecuador and anywhere these majestic creatures roam.

References (Turtle Pre history) Enchanted McFarlan, D (Editor); McCarthy, M. (Editor); Young, M (Editor). (1991). The Guinness Book of Records 1992. Facts on File, New York, NY, U.S.A. NEFSC Fish FAQ Ocean Life – Interview with turtle expert Richard Reina Sea Turtles Spotila, J.R. (2004). Sea Turtles: A Complete Guide to Their Biology, Behavior, and Conservation. The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA. Kids’ Question About Turtles

Do male turtles have long tails?

Do sea turtles have tails? Yes, have tails. In fact, once sea turtles reach sexual maturity, the size of the tail can be used to reliably distinguish between male and female sea turtles. Males develop much longer tails – which may extend past their rear flippers – whereas females tails remain much shorter. An adult male green turtle has a long tail. An adult female green turtle has a short tail. References :

Godley, B.J., Broderick, A.C., Frauenstein, R., Glen, F. and Hays, G.C.2002. Reproductive seasonality and sexual dimorphism in green turtles. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 226, 125-133. Hendrickson, J.R.1958. The green turtle Chelonia mydas in Malaya and Sarawak. Proc Zool Soc Lond, 130, 455-535.

: Do sea turtles have tails?

Do turtles eat everyday?

How often should I feed my red-eared slider? – The frequency of feeding depends on the age and size of your red-eared slider. Smaller or juvenile turtles will eat heartily every day. As they get older, adult turtles may be offered a good-sized portion of food every two or three days.

Can turtles live up to 500 years?

Their lifespan can be 150 years or more. As with whales, sharks, and other species, it is often difficult to determine a turtle’s exact age. After all, researchers are not usually present when the animals are born. Some have estimated, however, that large turtles may be able to live 400 to 500 years!

What age will my turtle lay eggs?


Adult females do not begin laying eggs until they are about 30 years old. Females will not return to land from the time they hatch until they are ready to nest. (Males will not return to land their entire life.) Females return to the same general beach region where they hatched. Nesting season may begin after the water temperature reaches 70 degrees (late April/early May). Mothers typically nest at night, selecting a site in the dunes, hopefully well above the high tide line. They dig a deep hole with their back flippers using alternating strokes and deposit about 120 ping-pong ball size eggs; then cover the nest with sand to hide it from predators. Nesting is generally in three-year cycles, and females lay multiple clutches 3 to 6 times each nesting season. During nesting season, cycles of egg laying occur about 2 weeks apart. Early each morning during nesting season, the Sea Turtle Patrol HHI will drive a 14 mile stretch of beach looking for mother turtle tracks from the night before. Upon finding tracks, they use a probe to locate the nest. Next, they mark the nest with 3 poles and tag it with a nest number and enter it in the SCDNR electronic database. If a turtle lays a nest in a vulnerable location, the Turtle Patrol will transfer that nest to a safer location by hand, but they must move nests within 24 hours of being laid. After 24 hours, each embryo has attached to its shell wall and handling/moving that egg would disrupt development.

IMPORTANT: Following a nesting female with a white flashlight as she makes her way up the beach and/or making loud noises or getting too close will disorient and interrupt her nesting intention. Then it is likely she will return to the ocean without laying her eggs. When a sea turtle crawls ashore and doesn’t lay eggs, scientists call this a “false crawl”.

Can you tell the difference between a turtle?

What’s the Difference Between Turtles and Tortoises? – Did you know that tortoises are turtles, but not all turtles are tortoises ? Most people use the term “turtle” to reference any reptile with a shell on its back, but there’s several differences between these two unique creatures.

Tortoises have more rounded and domed shells where turtles have thinner, more water-dynamic shells. Turtle shells are more streamlined to aid in swimming. One major key difference is that tortoises spend most of their time on land and turtles are adapted for life spent in water. Tortoises have club-like forelegs and ‘elephantine’ hind legs. Because tortoise are often larger and heavier, their elephantine hind legs help them move around and carry the extra weight! Turtles will have more flipper like legs, or webbed feet to make it easier to cruise through the water.

Want to learn more about Nashville Zoo’s turtles and tortoises and how you can help?! Be sure to visit the Zoo to celebrate World Turtle Day® on May 23 and talk to Katie and other keepers about these shelled reptiles!

How do you tell if a turtle is a boy or girl red eared slider?

4. Tail Shape – Looking at a red-eared slider’s tail is another way to determine its gender. Males have long, thick tails that stick out quite a bit from their shell. Females have shorter, thinner tails that are less noticeable. When looking at male vs female red-eared turtles, the slider with the thicker tail is likely to be a male.

Males have thick tails because their reproductive organs are housed near the end of the body. Females’ reproductive organs are farther up in their bodies to make it easier to lay eggs, and so they do not need to have a thick tail. In addition to tail shape, the position of the cloaca ( i.e. reproductive/waste opening ) of a turtle can tell you whether the slider is male or female.

The cloaca of a male turtle is positioned farther down the tail, which helps him mate with the female. A female’s cloaca is just below the edge of the shell. A cloaca that is halfway down the tail is characteristic of a male slider.

Why is one turtle bigger than the other?

Age, sex, husbandry of the animal, etc. Females typically are larger than males. They’re usually considered full grown around three years of age. Diet & UV both play an important role.

Do male turtles mate with multiple females?

Introduction – Increasing global temperatures threaten marine turtle populations, Most authors’ concerns grow from consideration of temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD), the mechanism by which incubation temperature of the nest directly impacts the sex of the embryo,

In marine turtles, warmer incubation temperatures tend to produce females, whereas cooler temperatures tend to produce males, Authors are concerned that higher temperatures will cause such a female bias in sex ratios that populations will face extinction, Currently however, the magnitude of the sex ratio skew in adults is unknown due to our limited understanding of the proportion of adult males (and males approaching sexual maturity),

Marine turtle individuals are often widely distributed geographically, outside of the nesting season. Dispersed members of populations make detecting sex ratio issues across populations challenging. In addition, adult males are very difficult to access because they rarely come to land.

While a determination of adult sex ratio is beyond reach, a functional alternative, breeding sex ratios (BSR: the proportion of males and females that successfully mate at any time) can be used to identify the minimum number of males and females contributing to populations. By estimating BSR at small, growing nesting aggregations a more thorough proportion of the nesting beach can be assessed than at large nesting beaches, and inferences can be made about the impact of climate change on the population as a whole,

The loggerhead sea turtle ( Caretta caretta ) is listed globally as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), However, along the continental US and adjacent waters in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, it is listed as threatened,

  1. The Northwest Atlantic contains one of only two marine turtle nesting aggregations of greater than 10,000 individuals nesting annually,
  2. Florida nesting loggerheads make up approximately 90% of that aggregation,
  3. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) estimated that 184,064 loggerhead nests were laid in the 2016 nesting season and the overall nesting trend is an increasing one across the state,

Due to their accessibility, nesting females, nest success, and hatchlings are frequently examined and used for demographic studies and population models, Data on nesting females and hatchlings are supplemented with in-water capture/recapture and satellite tag studies, which provide additional information on the number of turtles,

The Turtle Expert Working Group estimated that the female loggerheads return to nest every 2.5 years on average ; however, using mark-recapture data over a 20-year data set, Phillips et al. estimated it at an average of 3.2 years for turtles nesting in Southwestern Florida, From tagging and resighting data, it has been estimated that loggerheads lay on average from 3–4.1 nests per season while satellite tagging suggests that within the Gulf of Mexico, the average is closer to 5.4 nests per season,

Nest frequency is an important metric because it can be used to calculate how many females nest each year. Unfortunately, information regarding adult male behavior and number is lacking. Many in-water capture studies do not identify the sex of the turtles,

  • Studies that do identify the sex of captured individuals tend to examine juvenile sex ratios ; or are focused on migration or distribution,
  • Consequently, male sea turtles’ reproductive behavior is poorly understood and sex ratio cannot be estimated directly.
  • A variety of methods have been used to infer aspects of male reproductive behavior.

In all seven-extant species of marine turtles, it has been shown that sperm from more than one male can fertilize a single clutch (multiple paternity), Furthermore, in at least one species, a single male may mate with more than one female, Little is known about mate choice, and while direct observations of multiple matings occur, assigning which male(s) successfully father young from observed copulations may not be accurate.

Hormonal studies suggest that loggerhead males could mate annually and satellite tracking of adult males suggests that about 40% remain close to nesting beaches during a breeding season and may therefore mate more than once, Together, these findings suggest that males contribute to multiple nests during a nesting season and might breed more frequently than females.

The number of males fathering each clutch can be determined genetically and used to estimate the minimum BSR, Whether the BSR or reproductive behavior vary among populations is unknown. The primary goal of this study was to estimate the breeding sex ratio for the loggerhead turtle nesting on a small nesting beach on the southwestern coast of Florida.