Top 4 Differences Between Turtles and Tortoises

Photo by Yegor Denisov on Unsplash

We don’t blame you if you don’t know the difference between a turtle and a tortoise. After all, they do look similar thanks to shells covering their body. But, if you want to learn how to tell them apart, check out these differences.


Turtles spend most of their time in the water and only come to land to lay eggs. Tortoises, on the other hand, live on land and avoid water except when they need to drink or take a quick bath. 


Despite looking similar at first, turtles and tortoises actually have more than a few distinguishable differences in appearance. For example, a turtle has a flatter shell and flipper-like legs, which helps them with swimming. The shell of a tortoise looks like a dome, and they have sturdier legs in the shape of columns, which are more adapted for walking on land.


Turtles are omnivorous, meaning they will eat both meat, like small fish and plants. Tortoises are herbivores, meaning that they only eat plants.


Finally, turtles live a shorter life compared to tortoises. Sea turtles can live anywhere between 10 years and 60 years. Tortoises, on the other hand, can easily live more than 100 years. One of the reasons for this is that turtles face more danger due to their habitat.