A tortoise is a turtle, but a turtle isn't a tortoise.
Confused? Let us shed some light on the subject.
A turtle is any shelled reptile belonging to the order Chelonii. The term "tortoise" is more specific, referring to terrestrial turtles.
"But surely tortoises doesn't swim?" Well that's what we thought until we noticed a regular visitor to our Thapama hide. Every afternoon we would get Leopard tortoises that would not only come for a drink but also a quick swim before heading off. This called for some serious googling and here is what we found.
Leopard tortoises don't have a nuchal shield (the protective scute above the neck) this makes it possible for them to raise their heads and thus enabling them to swim. Interesting, right?
We also came across these fun facts about tortoises.
- A group of tortoises is called a creep - not that you are likely to come across one as they are usually solitary creatures
- September 2018 marked the 50th anniversary of the Zond 5 mission which carried two Russian tortoises to the Moon and back again. And here we thought it was a monkey that won that race!
- A Galapagos tortoise named Harriet was cared for by both Charles Darwin and Steve Irwin
If you interested in visiting our hides, why not take advantage of the 2019 Wildlife photography competition special
This article was adapted from the original at http://mentalfloss.com/article/56805/16-fun-facts-about-tortoises