Zoology & Botany

Turtle

Prepare a picture of/book about/a toy turtle in advance, as well as a real turtle if possible-

Say: Look at this animal. (Show a picture of a turtle.) This is a reptile.

Remember, to be classified as a reptile, an animal should have a backbone (It is a vertebrate) lungs and need air to breathe. (Hold the sample of scales; Show it to the baby) say: Its body is covered in scales. Almost all reptiles are cold-blooded and most of them lay eggs.

(Point to the turtle) Say: Turtles are reptiles of the order Testudines characterized by a special bony or cartilaginous shell that makes them unique. (point to the shell) Say: The top domed part of a turtle's shell is called the carapace, and the bottom underlying part is called the plastron. The shell of a turtle is made up of 60 different bones all connected together. The bony portion of the shell is covered with plates (scutes) that offer protection from the snapping jaws of terrestrial predators. They have strong, horny mouths, or beaks, and no teeth. Their column shaped feet much like that of elephants. They sometimes have sharp claws for digging. Most turtle species have five toes on each limb. Turtles have good eyesight and an excellent sense of smell. Hearing and sense of touch are both good and even the shell contains nerve endings.

Go back to the picture of the turtle. Say: let’s find turtle’s body parts. This is its head, eyes, nose, mouth, shell, legs: 1,2,3,4; this is its tail. Remember that there are differences between a Land turtles or (tortoise) and Aquatic turtles. Aquatic turtles spend most of their time in water and have webbed feet for swimming. Land turtles (tortoises) are land dwellers. Their feet are not webbed. Turtles have flatter backs than tortoises. While most land turtles are able to retract into their shells for protection, sea turtles aren’t able to do so. Their head is exposed at all times.

Land turtles are living things and need energy to survive. Land turtles (tortoises) are herbivorous creatures; they eat grasses, mushrooms, saw palmetto berries, and prickly pear cactus pads, fruits and flowers, as well as blackberries, blueberries, gopher apples and other low-growing fruits. Female tortoises dig burrows to lay their eggs in. After 3-4 months, the hatchlings break the eggshells open with their beaks and dig their way up to the surface. Once on the ground they move into their mother’s burrow and she protects them for another two months. This is different to turtle hatchlings that head for the water and fend for themselves as soon as they break out of their eggs.

Tortoises live all over the world. Land turtles can be found on every continent of the world, except for Antarctica. They thrive from the prairies of the North American Midwest, to the savannas and grasslands of Africa, the deserts of the Middle East and the forests of Asia. We need to take care of Turtles and treat them with respect because they are living things just like us, people.

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