Garanimals Blog

May 25th, 2011 at 5:00 am

World Turtle Day

This week, on May 23, we celebrate the 11th annual World Turtle Day. My kids have always been fascinated by turtles, and we’ve learned a lot over the years, like the difference between turtles and tortoises. Turtles spend most of their time in water and have webbed feet; tortoises spend their lives on land and have rounded feet that help them negotiate a variety of terrains. Here are a few hard-shelled facts to share with your kids about turtles:

  • Turtles and tortoises are reptiles
  • There are 250 species of turtles and tortoises (49 of which are considered endangered or vulnerable)
  • Their hard shells are made of about 60 bones covered by plates
  • Turtles can feel pressure and pain through their shells
  • The smallest turtle is the bog turtle (about 4 inches full grown)
  • The largest is the leatherback turtle (up to 8 feet long full grown)
  • Most turtles and tortoises are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals

A wide variety of turtles and tortoises are available as pets, and they can be a good choice for families with allergies.

Owen & Mzee: The true story of a remarkable friendship by Greg and Isabella Hatkoff is a story written by a seven-year-old girl and her father. It tells the true tale of a young hippo (Owen) who was orphaned during the 2004 tsunami, and his amazing connection to a 130-year old tortoise named Mzee. The website has great photos, online and printable activities for kids, teaching guides, plus lots of info and links about ecology.

Books are always a great way to celebrate our animal friends. Here are a few terrific turtle and tortoise tomes:

The Really Groovy Story of the Tortoise and the Hare, by Kristyn Crow — the latest version of the classic fable

Yertle the Turtle — the Dr. Suess classic

The Foolish Tortoise, by Eric Carle

One Tiny Turtle, by Nicola Davis

Old Turtle, by Douglas Wood

Esio Trot, by Roald Dahl — great for newly independent readers

Happy World Turtle Day!

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of People, Mike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blog, as well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.




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