World Turtle Day is on May 23 every year. The American Tortoise Rescue created this celebratory day in 2000 in order to increase awareness and concern for the welfare of turtles and tortoises worldwide. It’s also the perfect occasion for parents to teach kids about turtles. Although turtles are one of the oldest types of reptiles, dating back to the time of the dinosaurs, most of the sea turtles are now classified as endangered. So take this opportunity to give your kids a new appreciation for turtles and encourage them to do what they can to protect these amazing creatures!
15 Fun Turtle Facts for World Turtle Day
- All turtles are reptiles of the order Chelonii or Testudines.
- Turtles belong to one of the oldest reptile groups and are older than snakes, lizards, and crocodiles.
- The words turtle, tortoise, and terrapin, are often used interchangeably; however, they have many differences.
- Turtles live mainly in water; whereas, tortoises are land animals.
- Turtles are cold-blooded.
- A bale is a gathering of turtles.
- Turtles lay eggs, and the temperature determines whether it will be a male or female. Eggs laid in hot climates are usually females, while eggs laid in cooler climates are mostly males.
- They have been on Earth for 200 million years.
- The top, rounded shell is called the carapace; the part of the shell underneath its body is the plastron.
- Most turtles can hide their heads when an enemy attacks them.
- Turtles are omnivores, eating a variety of foods, such as plants, mollusks, small fish, worms, and insects. Some turtles, like the cooter turtle and green sea turtle, are vegetarians.
- The largest turtle is the leatherback sea turtle, which can weigh up to 2,000 pounds.
- The speckled cape tortoise is one of the smallest turtles with a shell that is 3.1 inches long (7.9 cm). It weighs approximately 5 ounces.
- Turtles live on every continent except for Antarctica.
- In many cultures, turtles symbolize patience and wisdom.
Useful Turtle Conservation Tips
Now that you and your kids have learned that turtles are threatened, learn how you can conserve their habitats:
- When possible, and if conditions are safe, move a turtle off of a street if you think he is in danger of being hit by a car. Learn the best techniques and what to do if you see a turtle in the road from the Turtle Rescue League.
- Learn how to help turtles live in their natural habitat. For instance, the U.S. government protected coastline areas in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi for the loggerhead sea turtle in 2014.
- Avoid buying turtles from pet stores.
- Instead, people can adopt turtles from organizations like Petfinder.com.
- Never take a turtle out of its natural habitat.
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) oversees a number of conservation efforts to control “bycatch” of sea turtles, research of marine environments, and recovery plans.
Fun Turtle Activities
Kids love to do fun things that remind them of animals. So in preparation for World Turtle Day, try an activity on this list to celebrate with your kids:
- Color turtle-themed art books.
- Have turtle-themed parties such as indoor tortoise parties and poolside sea turtle parties.
- Wear turtle print tee-shirts.
- Go on turtle search hikes in parks.
- Write letters to legislators asking them to help with turtle habitat conservation efforts.
Turtle Wrap Up
Having a better awareness of turtles, tortoises, and terrapins encourages kids to support these animals. In observance of World Turtle Day, moms and dads around the world can teach their children to care for turtles. By enjoying fun learning activities, children will be thankful for turtles, conserve their habitats, and save their lives.