Understanding the Difference Between Tortoise and Turtle

Although they belong to separate taxonomic groups, turtles and tortoises are both members of the Testudine order of reptiles. The primary difference between tortoise and turtle is that whereas turtles spend most of their lives in the water, tortoises spend their entire lives on land.

Both tortoises and turtles have shells that cover their bodies; the upper half of these shells is known as the carapace, and the lower portion is known as the plastron. The head and limbs of a turtle or tortoise may be removed from the shell, but the entire body cannot be completely severed from it because the carapace and the plastron are connected by a bridge. In general, these reptiles are shy and solitary creatures.

Differences in Habitat

difference between tortoise and turtle on the basis of habitat is that tortoises live on land, turtles spend the majority of their lives in the water. On the ground, eggs are laid by both turtles and tortoises. Two to twelve eggs will be laid there by the mother after she digs a burrow. For 90 to 120 days, the prospective hatchlings will incubate independently inside the egg. After the incubation period is through, they make their way to the surface by digging. Turtle hatchlings are independent of birth, unlike tortoise babies, whose moms protect them for roughly 80 days until they must fend for themselves.

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Differences in Physical Characteristics

difference between tortoise and turtle on the basis of physical Characteristics is that tortoise has short, strong feet and a dome-shaped shell. Instead of being straight and positioned exactly beneath the body, its legs are curved. A turtle has limbs that are relatively similar to those of a tortoise and a flat, streamlined shell, but its feet are webbed and have strong claws that enable it to grab onto floating logs and climb along riverbanks. Some turtles, like the pig-nosed turtle, may even have flippers.

Tortoise vs. Turtle Shell

These reptiles’ body shells are particularly significant because they provide researchers with a good understanding of how these reptiles live. The shell of a tortoise, which lives on land, is very massive and dome-shaped to give protection from predators, whereas the shell of a turtle, which often prefers to live in water, is flat and streamlined to aid in swimming and diving. A turtle’s shell is lighter to prevent sinking and to boost swimming speed compared to a tortoise’s, which is rather heavy.

Reproduction of Turtles vs. Tortoises

Similar to the eggs produced by other reptiles, turtle eggs are fairly soft and leather-like. Turtle hatchlings spend 90–120 days on their own in their nest. In the tunnels they create, female tortoises lay anywhere between 2 and 12 eggs. The ping-pong-ball-sized eggs require 90 to 120 days to incubate a hatchling.

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Differences in Diet

While turtles can be both herbivorous and carnivorous, most land-dwelling tortoises are herbivores. 

As Pets

Although small turtles are more frequently kept as pets, both are. Actually, tortoises are more expensive to purchase but easier to care for. Both demand proprietors who can and are ready to devote for a very long time. As a result, neither is frequently suggested as a pet.

Difference in Lifespan

If we talk about the Difference Between Tortoise and Turtle on the basis of lifespan. The average lifespan of a tortoise is 60 to 80 years, however, some have been known to survive for more than 150 years. The verified life expectancy of a tortoise was 188 years. As opposed to land turtles, which have an average lifespan of 20 to 40 years, sea turtles have a lifespan of 60 to 70 years, of which 40 to 50 years are spent maturing.

Although it has been challenging to verify these claims, it has been said that tortoises can live for over 200 years in captivity. In captivity, most tortoises can live for more than 100 years, but surviving past that point necessitates carefully monitored, caring settings.

Geographical Distribution

While turtles are more common in America and Africa, tortoises are more common in Asia and Africa. As most lizards prefer warmer external temperatures to maintain optimum body warmth, turtles are typically found in tropical and semi-tropical regions. Some turtles, however, are renowned for hibernating in colder months, typically beside riverbanks. Since their environments are almost totally warm, turtles are not known for hibernating, however, some species can significantly slow down their metabolism when there is little to no food or water available.


Tortoises and tortoises are both reptiles with shells that cover their bodies. Nevertheless, there are some key differences between the two. Tortoises live on land, whereas turtles spend most of their lives in the water. Tortoises also have dome-shaped shells and short, strong legs, while tortoises have flat, streamlined shells and webbed feet. Tortoises typically have a longer lifespan than tortoises, and they can live for over 150 years in captivity. Tortoises are more common in Asia and Africa, while tortoises are more common in America and Africa.

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