Facts about the Tortoise - Not Just a Slow Coach

Here are ten facts you may - or may not, have known about the tortoise:

1. A group of tortoises is called a creep.

2. Underneath it’s shell, a tortoise has a spine, ribs and a collar bone.

3. The tortoise shell is made up of 3 main parts: the top carapace, the bottom plastron and the bridge which merges them together.

4. The hotter the climate they live in, the lighter coloured their shell is.

5. Tortoises can hold their breath for long periods of time. How do you think they stay inside their shell for so long? You can actually hear them exhaling before they disappear inside the safety of their shell.

6. A tortoise is a turtle, but a turtle is not a tortoise! To be more clear, any shelled reptile belonging to the order Chelonii is a turtle. The name tortoise refers to the terrestrial turtles.

7. The scales on the top of a tortoise shell  are known as scutes.

8. Size does matter! Tortoises reach sexual maturity not with age but rather with size. Only once they are a certain size can you tell what sex they are.

9. They use the Jacobson’s organ in the roof of their mouth to smell, like other reptiles. However, they do not flick their tongue but rather pump their throats to move the air around their nose and mouth.

10. The first spacecraft to circle the moon and return to earth had tortoises on board as it’s only passengers.

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