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Free images of Turtles - General Information 

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Reptiles are in the Linnaean class of Reptilia.  They are characterized by breathing air, having a cold-blooded metabolism, laying tough-shelled amniotic eggs, and having skin with scales or scutes.  All reptiles are born on land.  Being cold-blooded means that if they get too warm, they need to cool off in water or shade.  Conversely, if they get too cold, they need to warm up in the sun.

Turtles are one of the many reptiles in the Reptilia class.  According to the Columbia Encyclopedia, turtles existed 200 million years ago during the time of the dinosaur!  This makes them one of the oldest reptile groups.  

  Did you know.... that there are over 8,000 species of reptiles and over 270-300 species of turtle ?

 

Carapace shell of painted turtle

Painted Turtle Carapace (Shell) - 1 

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Turtles have a strong bone-like shell that is developed from their ribs.  Like other reptiles, turtles are "ectotherms", which means that their internal temperature changes according to the temperature of their environment.  This is also known as being "cold-blooded".

Turtles live in both fresh and salt water.  The largest species of turtle is aquatic.  Turtles can range in size from very small to over 2,000 lbs (Leatherback Sea Turtle).  The shells of some turtles are soft, while others are very hard.

Turtles are sometimes called "chelonians" because that is the scientific classification "order" to which they belong.

 

Plastron bottom shell of painted turtle

Painted Turtle Plastron (Bottom shell) - 1 

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The shell of a turtle is called the carapace.  The lower portion of the shell is called the plastron.  The two portions of the shell are held together by a hard, bone-like structure called a bridge.  Have you seen cartoons where a turtle climbs out of its shell?  That is not possible since a turtle's shell actually includes portions of its backbone and ribs.

 

Bridge side of a painted turtle shell

Painted Turtle shell - 4 - The bridge.

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Hollow shell of a painted turtle.

Painted Turtle shell - 1 Showing front opening where head and legs emerge.

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Green top of a painted turtle shell

Painted Turtle shell - 2 

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Side view of a painted turtle shell

Painted Turtle shell - 3

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Inside ribs of painted turtle shell

Painted Turtle shell - 5 
Holding the shell upside down, it is possible to view the ridges of ribs and backbone.

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Shell structure of a painted turtle interior.

Painted Turtle shell interior - 1 
Holding the shell upside down, it is possible to view the ridges of ribs and backbone.

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Ribs and spine of painted turtle interior shell.

Painted Turtle shell interior - 2

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Bottom view of painted turtle shell.

Painted Turtle shell interior - 3

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Interior view of a painted turtle shell.

Painted Turtle shell interior - 4

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The domed shaped of a turtle makes it difficult for predators to crush the shell between their jaws?  In fact, the disturbing photographs below demonstrate how, without crushing its shell, a raccoon makes a meal out of a painted turtle.

    

The Cycle of Life

The story behind the images.... 

Raccoons are typically active during twilight and evening hours, but I came across this raccoon around 1 p.m. It was struggling in tall grass with something heavy.  Sitting on its hind, it was pulling on something long and pink.  At first I thought it was eating a very long earthworm.  The raccoon was very bold and didn't mind me stopping to watch its feast and take pictures.  (They are very noisy eaters by the way, slurping and crunching with their mouth open.  Table manners, tsk tsk!) 

When the raccoon changed locations, I could see that the "earthworm" was attached to something heavy which bounced along the ground.  Much to my surprise, the raccoon was actually eating the intestines of a painted turtle! I continued to watch him as he continued to reach into the shell of the turtle and pulled out the contents.

A few hours later I returned to the area and found the carcass of the turtle.  The entire turtle looked intact - the shell was in perfect condition, the head and limbs were all there.  For a moment I thought I'd found the wrong turtle.  Upon further inspection, I found that one leg was missing, and it was through this opening that the raccoon had eaten the contents of the turtle's shell.  Although the turtle's shell had protected him from being crushed, the raccoon had torn off one of the turtle's legs and had scooped out the organs from the shell's leg opening.  Slow-moving painted turtles out of the water, it seems, have no defenses against a determined raccoon - and such is the circle of life.

 

Raccoon eating a turtle.

Raccoon eating turtle - 1

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Raccoon eating intestines of a painted turtle.

Raccoon eating turtle - 2

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Turtle Nests

Turtles lay their eggs in soft soil and sand.  In North American species, peak laying season is typically in June and July.  After breeding, the female will lay a "clutch" of eggs in a hole she digs in the sand.  The size of the nest depends upon the size of the female, but depths are usually between 5-11 cm deep.  She covers the eggs with her hind legs and leaves them in the warm, sun-baked sand for incubation. Incubation time depends upon the temperature and ranges from 9 to 18 weeks. The incubation temperature of the eggs will determine the gender of the hatchlings. Eggs at a temperature of 23-28C will be male, other temperatures turn into females.

Nests are very vulnerable to predators and they are frequently ransacked and the eggs eaten by animals.  Turtle eggs are favourite meals for snakes, birds, squirrels, skunks, raccoons, and fox.

 

ravaged eaten turtle nest eggs

Ravaged Turtle Nest - 1  (Northern Ontario)

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Turtle General Information Pages  [1]   [2]

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Remarkable
Reptiles !

In the Book "The lectures of Linnaeus concerning the Animal Kingdom", published about 100 years ago, Carl Linnaeus wrote in the beginning of his Chapter on Amphibia that animals in this Chapter are "the ugliest, most cruel and most poisoning".  He expressed that he was happy that our Creator put rather few of these animals into this class.  If there had been more, they would have hurt the other species.

Carl Linnaeus (1701-1778) was a Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist.  He is known as the father of taxonomy and the one who laid the foundations for our current biological naming scheme.

Did you know....

Reptiles breathe air!

Almost all reptiles lay shelled eggs!

 

Sensational 
Snakes !

 

 

 

 

 

Terrific Turtles !

 

 

 

Did you know...

The King Cobra is the largest venomous snake in the world.  It is 12 feet long! 

Frogs breathe with their lungs but also their skin!

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing Alligators !

 

 

Did you know...

Reptiles have holes instead of ears!

Reptiles today live on every continent except Antarctica!

Most reptiles have a 3-chambered heart!

 

Be sure to check out all the reptile image categories !

 

 

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