Difference between turtle and tortoise | Biology

Did you know before I was really confused between Turtle and Tortoise and always used to think what are the difference between Tortoise and Turtle? because they look almost the same in their shape, size, having shells on their back, etc. Also, there are many similarities between them like they both belong to the same order named Testudines and family Chelonian.

But there was a big question in my mind that being the same in their shape and size why are they having different names? in search of this answer, I visited many zoos in India and noticed many differences between these two reptiles, Tortoise and Turtles.

Here are some of the main differences between Tortoise and Turtle, biologically based on different categories like Habitat, Lifespan, Eating habits, different types of shells, feet, etc.

Difference between turtle and tortoise

Differences based on their Habitat

  • Almost all the Turtles are aquatic, they live in small ponds, lakes, and large rivers. But some of them are semi-aquatic (Which spend their time in both land and water) like Pond Turtles, Painted turtles, etc. And Terrestrial turtles (are the one which lives on land) like Box turtle.
  • Tortoises are reptiles that live on land, and they are not equipped to live in water.

Differences based on their life span

  • Turtles have a shorter life span as compared to Tortoises because turtles can live only for 20-50 years.
  • But when we talk about tortoises they are the longest living animal in the world which can live a long life of about 70-150 years

Differences between turtle and tortoise based on Eating habits

  • Turtles are omnivores animals, they like to eat Earthworms, Beetles, Snails, Catterpillars, grasses, fruits, flowers, etc.
  • Tortoises are Herbivores animals, they like fresh vegetables like Collard greens, Mustard, Sweet potato, etc.

Differences based on their Shells

  • The shells of turtles are thinner and lighter.
  • The shells of Tortoise are round and heavier than turtle shells because they can weigh up to 25 pounds.

Differences based on their feet

  • Turtles have webbed feet and flipper-like legs which help them to swim in the water.
  • Tortoises have padded elephant-like feet because they are heavier than turtles and these feet help them to walk on the land.



Tortoises are Herbivorous.

Turtles are Omnivorous.

The lifespan of Tortoises are 70-150 years.

The lifespan of Turtles are 20-40 years.

Tortoises live on land.

Turtles can be aquatic, Terrestrial.

Tortoises are Turtles.

Turtles are not Tortoises.

Tortoises have round and domed shells.

Turtles have lighter shells on their backs.

Also Read = Most dangerous snakes in the world

Difference between turtle and tortoise

Frequently asked questions:

1. Which is bigger Tortoise or Turtle?

Tortoise is Bigger and Heavier than Turtle because Tortoise has a heavy and round shaped shell which weighs about 5-25 pounds. Turtles have lighter shells than Tortoise.

2. Are Tortoise and Turtles Related?

All Tortoises are Turtles, as they belong to the same family and Order Chelonia and Testudines. But not all Turtles are Tortoises.

3. What are the differences between Tortoise and Turtle?

The differences between turtle and tortoise are that they both are the reptiles that belong to the same order Testudines, but there is a difference between their lifespan like Tortoise have a larger life span of about 150 years or more than that and the Turtle has a lifespan of about 40 years. Tortoise is Herbivores animals and Turtles are Omnivores animals.

4. What do Turtles Eat?

Turtles are Omnivores animals that eat both green vegetables and animal flesh like Earthworms, Beetles, Snails, Caterpillars, fish food, grasses, fruits, flowers, etc.

5. What do Tortoise Eat?

Tortoises are Herbivores animal that likes to eat a variety of green vegetables, Sweet potatoes, Squash, Mustard, etc.

6. What is the lifespan of Turtle?

The Turtle has a short life span of about 40 years.

7. What is the lifespan of a Tortoise?

The Tortoise has a longer life span of about 150 years or more than that. Because they are the longest living land animals in the world.

8. Can a Tortoise survive in water?

A tortoise is a terrestrial animal that cannot swim in water or float, but Turtles can swim easily in the water as they are aquatic animals.

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