Difference Between Turtle and Tortoise


Main Difference

Turtle and Tortoise are both reptiles and belong from the same family Chelonian and order of Testudines. The basic difference between a turtle and tortoise is that turtle lives in the water most of its lifetime whereas tortoise lives on the land.

Comparison Chart

Turtle is a reptile animal that belongs from the chelonian family and lives well in water than land.Tortoise is a reptile animal that belongs to the chelonian family and spends more time on land than water.
Shape of Shell
Turtle shell is streamlined and flat. It is light weight.Tortoise shell is heavy and is dome shaped.
Feet and Limbs
Webbed flipper-like clawsShort, strong legs bent inward.
Omnivore eats everything i.e. fruits, vegetables, and meat.A herbivore; eats vegetables only.
Found In
America and Africa.Asia and Africa.

What is Turtle?

Turtle is the animal from the class reptile. It belongs to the family of chelonian and order of testudine. Turtle prefer water and spend most of the time in the water. The can swim very well but can also crawl on the land with the same flippers. Their whole body is protected and covered by a shell. This shell or covering is made up of the special cartilaginous sheath that starts from the ribs and covers up the whole body. They are said to be the oldest reptile species that exists from almost 160 million years ago. Turtle shell protects it from the predators and many other difficult even situations. Turtles are classified as amniotes, as they breathe air like another similar sort of reptiles and don’t lay eggs inside the water. They have to come on the land for laying the eggs. Turtles being reptiles are cold-blooded animals, which mean they can control and maintain their body temperature according to their surrounding environment. The shell present on their body is flat in nature mostly, and a bit streamlined unlike that of a tortoise. Their shell is light weight as compared to that of a tortoise; it is because they need to swim swiftly underwater using their webbed flipper-like feet and claws. Turtles are surprisingly omnivores, as they eat meat as well as they also prefer fruits and vegetables under water or on land. Newborn turtles stay in their nest on their own for about 120 days. They are usually found in the sea and dwells well in the salty waters. The average age of a turtle is 20 years to 40 years that is quite less as compare to that of a tortoise. Turtles are found in Africa and America.


What is Tortoise?

Tortoise is crawling animal that belongs from the reptile class. Tortoise is also from the order of Testudines and the same chelonian family as turtles are from it. Tortoise can live both in water and land but dwells well on the land. Tortoise unlike their cousin’s turtles, prefer land more and spend most of their lifetime on the lands. They are adapted to their land environment according to the atmosphere. They also possess a hard covering of a shell that covers their top part of the body starting from the rib cage and joining the pectoral muscles. The shell of the tortoise is quite strong and heavy. It is although similar in composition as turtle shell is, but is much more hard and heavy as compare to the turtle shell. The shape of the tortoise shell is also quite different from the turtle’s. It covers a large area and forms a dome. Some of the tortoise species possess bumps on the shell, which form an unusual pattern or grids. Unlike turtles, tortoises are found in the fresh waters of river, ponds, lakes, etc. They live on land and lay eggs on the land. Less than half of their lifespan is spent in the water, and that is just for the change of environment or from hiding from the predators. They do not possess flipper or webbed claws, unlike turtles. Tortoises have short firm legs that are bent inward. Most of the tortoises are herbivores in nature and prefer vegetables, but some rare species of the tortoise also do eat other things including flesh and meat. Tortoises are said to be longest living animals with an average lifespan of 80-150 years. The longest living tortoise recorded to have an age of 326 years. Tortoise is slow than a turtle and is bigger in size as well. Tortoises are found in Asia and Africa.

Turtle vs. Tortoise

  • Turtles are the reptiles that dwell well in water and spend most of their lifetime inside the water.
  • Tortoise is the reptiles that dwell well on land and spend most of their lifespan on the land.
  • Turtles shell is light in weight and is flat in shape.
  • Tortoise shell is heavy and is dome shaped.
  • Tortoises have short legs bent
  • Turtles have webbed flippers like claws that help them in swimming.
  • Turtles are omnivores; they eat everything including fruits, vegetables, and meat.
  • Tortoises are herbivores; they usually eat vegetables. Some of its species do eat meat also.
  • Average life span of the turtle is 20 to 40 years.
  • Average life span of tortoise is 80 to 150 years.
  • Turtles are found in America and Africa.
  • Tortoises are found in Asia and Africa.
Harlon Moss

Harlon currently works as a quality moderator and content writer for Difference Wiki. He graduated from the University of California in 2010 with a degree in Computer Science. Follow him on Twitter @HarlonMoss