EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

INTERESTING FACTS FROM A-Z

Click through our tortoise gloassary from A for Age to Y for Yolk Sac


Age

Tortoises have been living on this planet for around 250 million years. Today there are still over 300 different species with a life expectancy of 30-200 years.


Blastocyst

This is the early stage (5.-6. day) of embryogenesis. An externally visible white spot forms on the egg. Its size increases daily until the whole egg changes from its original creme colour to pure white.


CITES

Currently more than 5000 animal and 28,000 plant species are listed in the appendices of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). These animals and plants are protected world wide and cross border transport or trade is subject to permit. 

Cuttlebones

Tortoises should be given fresh cuttlebones on a weekly basis. They are important sources of calcium for young animals and for females forming eggs.


Exercise

Many tortoises travel several kilometres per day. In captivity they require sufficiently large runs.

Egg tooth

The egg tooth is a sharp tooth shaped horn extension on the upper jaw which is used to crack the egg shell from the inside for hatching.

Ears

Tortoises have ears and can hear but probably not very well. Their external ear is not developed (auditory canal and auricle are missing). The relatively large eardrum is located unprotected at the side of the head.


Fossil discovery

This tortoise fossil of a prehistoric turtle with a proven age of 70 million comes from South Dacota, USA. Its skeleton can be seen in the natural history museum in Vienna.  


Genera

Worldwide there are 16 genera categorised into 48 different species.

Geochelone

is a genus of the tortoise family. Today there are only 3 species of this genus left, Geochelone elegans, Geochelone sulcata and the very rare Geochelone platynota.


Hypervitaminosis

is an excessive feeding of vitamins. Too much vitamin A can cause the skin to detach. Too much vitamin leads to calcification of the kidneys. A varied, diverse mix of wild herbs replaces the artificial feeding with vitamins. 

Habitat

With the exception of the North and the South Poles turtles are found all over the world in in all oceans. Most of them live in water. Tortoises also live in lakes, rivers, streams and ponds.  

Hatching support

Is absolutely forbidden. The animals should hatch from their shells on their own and they should remain there until the yolk sac has largely disappeared. Only a brief water bath is allowed with the yolk sac because the animals are very thirsty.

Hiding place

For their well-being tortoises need hiding places in their outdoor enclosures and in their winter quarters. Alongside larger plants, wood or cork structures can offer hiding places and shade.  

Heat lamps

Heat lamps are imperative for keeping tropical tortoises indoors. They require temperatures and a radiation quality with UV-A and UV-B just as in their native habitat.


Malnutrition

Tortoises are largely vegetarian. This is how they should be fed. The wrong kind of feeding leads to malformations and an early death.


Protection of species

All over the world tortoises are an endangered species and have therefore been protected by Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Pyramiding

This occurs primarily due to dehydration and shrinking of the hatchlings’ growth plate. Even in dry regions tortoise hatchlings benefit from several hours of dew on their shells.  


Quarantine

New animals should remain in quarantine for at least 6 months before they can be admitted to an existing healthy group. Before they join the group their faeces must be checked for parasites.


Run

Tortoises love a challenge. As in nature, their runs should contain different structures such as stones, sand, earth, obstacles, plants and hiding places.


Smell

Tortoises have a highly developed sense of smell. They use it to recognise suitable foods and to select the best possible breeding place to bury their eggs.

Sight

Tortoises have very good eyesight. They can probably differentiate colours better than people because as with other reptiles, their eyes have four different colour receptors.


Tortoiseshell

The beautiful tortoiseshell (the carapace of sea turtles) has been used since antiquity for jewellery, combs and inlaid work. The high black market value still encourages the slaughter of sea turtles. 

Testudo

lat. ‚ÄúTortoise‚ÄĚ, also describes the military formation of the Roman army that allowed soldiers to march protected on all sides and in particularly from above.

Transport of eggs

Eggs may only be transported in the first 48 hours after being laid. After that the twisting movement destroys the already developing ovum.

Teeth

Tortoises do not have teeth. They have well developed upper and lower jaws shaped like a beak. Their egg tooth is not a real tooth but a horn extension used to crack the egg shell from inside. It dies back within the first few weeks.


UV-rays

are of vital importance for the survival of tortoises because the vitamin D necessary for the bone and for shell grown can only be formed with the aid of UV-rays. In summer they require outdoor sunlight and in winter special UV-A/UV-B lamps.


Vitamins

Do not have to be fed separately if the animals are given a natural diet of wild herbs.


Water

The animals should receive fresh water on a daily basis. A water bath immediately after hatching is particularly important for tortoise babies as it can prevent organ failure from dehydration.  

World Tortoise Day

Has been celebrated annually since 1990 on 23 May.


Yolk sac

The yolk sac is the sole source of nourishment for the embryos. It is still very large when the young ones hatch. The hatched tortoise should remain in the incubator until the sac has completely disappeared.


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