Shell-ebrate World Turtle Day
Turtles, tortoises and terrapins are marvelous creatures. In honor of World Turtle Day, we’re sharing 10 "turtally" awesome facts about some of Alexandria Zoo's terrific Testudines.
1. Alligator snapping turtles lure fish into their mouth by wiggling their tongue, which has a special attachment shaped like a worm. When a curious fish or other unwary prey tries to eat the decoy "worm," the turtle's massive jaws close on the prey.
2. Galapagos tortoises are the largest living tortoises in the world, with some exceeding 5 feet in length and reaching 550 pounds. They can even live to be over 100 years old.
3. The red-eared slider gets its name from the distinctive red marks around the ear, and their ability to slide quickly off rocks and logs into water.
4. A snake-necked turtle’s long neck (including head) can sometimes exceed the length of its shell.
5. Among land tortoises, leopard tortoises have the longest incubation period – with some records indicating an incubation of more than 400 days.
6. Because they are so heavy, Aldabra tortoises are terrible swimmers, but enjoy cooling off in shallow water and mud.
7. Unlike other turtles, the spiny softshell turtle lacks horny scutes. Instead, they are covered with a tough, pliable, leathery skin.
8. Box turtles can completely withdraw their head, legs and tail within the shell to protect themselves from predators.
9. The musk turtle can spray a foul-smelling, yellowish fluid from two pairs of musk glands when disturbed. The odor is so vile it has earned this turtle the nickname "stinkpot."
10. The yellow-footed tortoise is the largest of three species of mainland tortoises found in South America.