Portal:Turtles

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Turtles

Florida box turtle (Terrapene carolina)

Turtles are diapsids of the order Testudines (or Chelonii) characterized by a special bony or cartilaginous shell developed from their ribs and acting as a shield. "Turtle" may refer to the order as a whole (American English) or to fresh-water and sea-dwelling testudines (British English). The order Testudines includes both extant (living) and extinct species. The earliest known members of this group date from 220 million years ago, making turtles one of the oldest reptile groups and a more ancient group than snakes or crocodilians. Of the 356 known species alive today, some are highly endangered.

Turtles are ectotherms—animals commonly called cold-blooded—meaning that their internal temperature varies according to the ambient environment. However, because of their high metabolic rate, leatherback sea turtles have a body temperature that is noticeably higher than that of the surrounding water. Turtles are classified as amniotes, along with other reptiles, birds, and mammals. Like other amniotes, turtles breathe air and do not lay eggs underwater, although many species live in or around water. The study of turtles is called cheloniology, after the Greek word for turtle. It is also sometimes called testudinology, after the Latin name for turtles.

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Bog turtle
The bog turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii) is a semiaquatic turtle endemic to the eastern United States. It was first scientifically described in 1801 after an 18th century survey of Pennsylvania. It is the smallest North American turtle, measuring about 10 centimeters (4 in) long when fully grown. Although the bog turtle is similar in appearance to the painted or spotted turtles, its closest relative is actually the somewhat larger wood turtle. The bog turtle can be found from Vermont in the north, south to Georgia, and west to Ohio. Diurnal and secretive, it spends most of its time buried in mud and – during the winter months – in hibernation. The bog turtle is omnivorous, feeding mainly on small invertebrates.

Adult bog turtles weigh 110 grams (3.9 oz) on average. Their skins and shells are typically dark brown, with a distinctive orange spot on each side of the neck. Considered threatened at the federal level, the bog turtle is protected under the United States' Endangered Species Act. Invasive plants and urban development have eradicated much of the bog turtle's habitat, substantially reducing its numbers. Demand for the bog turtle is high in the black market pet trade, partly because of its small size and unique characteristics. Various private projects have been undertaken in an attempt to reverse the decline in the turtle's population.

The turtle has a low reproduction rate; females lay one clutch per year, with an average of three eggs each. The young tend to grow rapidly, reaching sexual maturity between the ages of 4 and 10 years old. Bog turtles live for an average of 20 to 30 years in the wild. Since 1973, the Bronx Zoo has successfully bred bog turtles in captivity.

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  • ...that the use of turtle excluder devices has decreased the number of sea turtles accidentally killed by shrimp fishermen by 97%?

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C insculpta.jpg
Credit: Faendalimas

A young pig-nosed turtle (Carettochelys insculpta)) in captivity in Slovakia. Showing the "flying" mode of swimming of this species.

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