Thursday, May 23 is World Turtle Day, and we’re celebrating the best way we know how: by highlighting some of the different turtle and tortoise species that live here at the Zoo!
This tortoise originates from the southern Sahara and inhabits dry grasslands and desert edges. These animals can reach 110 pounds and live up to 54 years in human care. The African spurred tortoise is regarded as a symbol of fertility and happiness by Senegalese people.
The alligator snapping turtle comes from the central and southern United States and is typically found in rivers, ponds and lakes. As its name suggests, this reptile is known for its powerful bite and feeds on rodents, frogs, fish and worms. The alligator snapping turtle can reach 175 pounds and live up to 70 years in human care.
These turtles, which are native to the eastern United States, can be found in the Indian River Lagoon. Our diamondback terrapin program encourages members of the community to report sightings, and we also serve as a pickup location for bycatch reduction devices that prevent diamondback terrapins from entering crab traps and drowning. These turtles only reach one and a half pounds and around nine inches in length.
This turtle is also smaller, reaching just 10 inches in length. Krefft’s river turtles are only found on Australia’s Fraser Island, which is only 710 square miles in size! These reptiles have naturally tough shells and can live up to 16 years in human care.
The radiated tortoise comes from southern Madagascar and feeds on cacti, grass and fruit. This reptile can grow to 35 pounds and is known for its beautiful shell. Unfortunately, this makes the radiated tortoise a target for poachers. It also faces threats of habitat loss and collection for the pet trade.
This reptile hails from the Midwest and reaches a mere 14 ounces in weight when fully grown. The yellow mud turtle’s poop actually helps fertilize soil in areas near the water! This turtle also naturally defends itself by releasing a potent smell when threatened.
We have 10 different types of turtles and tortoises, from land-dwellers to river inhabitants. Come visit the Zoo to meet our resident turtles throughout all the loops, or learn more about World Turtle Day here.