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Tortoise as Pets

A tortoise or land turtle is a land-dwelling reptile of the order Testudines.

Like their aquatic cousins, the sea turtles, tortoises are shielded from predators by a shell. The top part of the shell is the carapace, the underside is the plastron, and the two are connected by the bridge.

The tortoise has both an endoskeleton and an exoskeleton. Tortoises can vary in size from a few centimetres to two meters.

Tortoise

.Tortoises tend to be diurnal animals with tendencies to be crepuscular depending on the ambient temperatures. They are generally reclusive and shy.

Diet

Most land based tortoises are herbivores, feeding on grazing grasses, weeds, leafy greens, flowers, and certain fruits. Their main diet consists of alfalfa, clover, dandelions, and leafy weeds, although they will also eat various insects. Feeding a tortoise cat or dog food for its diet will eventually kill the tortoise, as it does not give them the nutrients they need. Cat and Dog food is meat and as tortoises require very little protein in their diet, meat should never be fed to a tortoise.

Tortoises should also never be fed "Tortoise Pellets" as these also do not contain the correct nutrients and will cause the tortoise to grow too quickly for its shell to keep up and the tortoise will obtain shell deformation. Calcium is extremely important in a tortoise's diet giving it the right minerals to enhance shell growth and repair.

Birth

Female tortoises dig and lay about a dozen eggs in burrows or holes they dig. Hatchlings take approximately 90-120 days to incubate from ping-pong-ball sized eggs. The hatchlings break out of their shells with a front beak. Most hatchlings are born with an embryonic egg sac, serving as a source of food for the first couple of days. They are capable of eating solid food in about 3-7 days.

 

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Turtles, Tortoise or Terrapin?

Although the word "turtle" is widely used to describe all members of the order Testudines, it is also common to see certain members described as terrapins, tortoises or sea turtles as well. Precisely how these alternative names are used, if at all, depends on the type of English being used.

  • British English normally describes these reptiles as turtles if they live in the sea; terrapins if they live in fresh or brackish water; or tortoises if they live on land. However, there are exceptions to this where American or Australian common names are in wide use, as with the Fly River turtle.
  • American English tends to use the word turtle for all species regardless of habitat, although tortoise may be used as a more precise term for any land-dwelling species. Oceanic species may be more specifically referred to as sea turtles. The name "terrapin" is strictly reserved for the brackish water diamondback terrapin, Malaclemys terrapin; the word terrapin in this case being derived from the Algonquian word for this animal.
  • Australian English uses turtle for both the marine and freshwater species but tortoise for the terrestrial species.

To avoid confusion, the word chelonian is popular among veterinarians, scientists, and conservationists working with these animals as a catch-all name for any member of the order Testudines. It is based on the Greek word χελóνα( /çeˈlona/, chelone), meaning tortoise.

Lifespan

There are many old wives tales about the age of turtles and tortoises, one of which being that the age of a tortoise can be deducted by counting the number of concentric rings on its carapace, much like the cross-section of a tree. This is, of course, not true, since the growth of a tortoise depends highly on the access of food and water. A tortoise that has access to plenty of forage (or is regularly fed by its owner) will grow faster than a desert tortoise that goes days without eating.

Tortoises generally have lifespans comparable with those of human beings, and some individuals are known to have lived longer than 150 years. Because of this, they symbolize longevity in some cultures, such as China. The oldest tortoise ever recorded, indeed the oldest individual animal ever recorded, was Tui Malila, who was presented to the Tongan royal family by the British explorer Captain Cook shortly after its birth in 1777. Tui Malila remained in the care of the Tongan royal family until its death by natural causes on May 19, 1965. This means that upon its death, Tui Malila was 188 years old

The Alipore Zoo in India was the home to Adwaitya, which zoo officials claimed was the oldest living animal until its death on March 23, 2006. Adwaitya (sometimes spelled with two d's) was an Aldabra Giant Tortoise brought to India by Lord Wellesley who handed it over to the Alipur Zoological Gardens in 1875 when the zoo was set up. Zoo officials state they have documentation showing that Adwaitya was at least 130 years old, but claim that he was over 250 years old (although this has not been scientifically verified). Adwaitya was said to be the pet of Robert Clive 1.

Harriet, a resident at the Australia Zoo in Queensland, was apocryphally thought to have been brought to England by Charles Darwin aboard the Beagle. Harriet died on June 23, 2006, just shy of her 176th birthday.

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tortoise


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