It's World Turtle Day! Celebrate with these 12 turtle-y cool facts

May 23, 2016 at 12:56 p.m. ET
Image: Seanscott/RooM/Getty Images

At first glance, turtles seem a little boring, right?

We get it. They move slowly and spend all day just hiding out in their shells. Seems like a total snooze-fest.

In honor of World Turtle Day, though, we're here to tell you just how very wrong you are. Turtles are actually fascinating creatures, and these facts will convince you just how wrong you were about these tough-shelled wonders.

1. There are so many kinds

You might be able to identify a few species of turtles, but that's barely the tip of the iceberg. There are over 300 species of turtles out there. The smallest is about 4 inches in size, and the largest can weigh up to 1,500 pounds.

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2. Turtles have been around forever

They've been here for about 215 million years, making them some of the oldest reptiles on Earth. The earliest turtle fossils are from the Triassic Period, and they are nearly identical to the turtles we know today.

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3. They live for a really long time

Several species of turtles can live to be over 100 years old. Maybe that's why they all look like cranky old men?

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4. Turtle shells aren't what you think

Most of us imagine turtles' shells to be something like a movable home or permanent body armor, but they're actually just modified rib cages and part of their spine. They have nerves and a blood supply, so turtles do feel pain when their shells are damaged.

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5. They live everywhere

Turtles live all over the world and are found on every continent except Antarctica.

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6. They can be carnivores

Most turtles are happy to spend their days munching away on leaves, but some species, like the alligator snapping turtle, snack on small animals, like frogs, fish, snakes and even other turtles.

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7. Turtles are loud

If you asked most people what a turtle sounds like, they'd be hard-pressed to give you an answer, but turtles can actually be pretty noisy creatures. The noises they make range by species, but some of the most entertaining sounds resemble electric engines, barking dogs, belching humans and clucking chickens.

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8. They mature at different rates

Some turtles reach sexual maturity at just a few years of age, but others don't reach that milestone until about 50 years of age.

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9. It's all in the tail

When they mate, turtles wrap their tails together to ensure their shell openings line up perfectly. Kind of gives the phrase "getting some tail" a whole new meaning, doesn't it?

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10. Ladies like it hot

In many species of turtles, the temperature of the air and sand affect whether an egg forms a male or female turtle. Hotter temperatures create female turtles. Due to increasing temperatures, these species are seeing far more females than males, leading to odd numbers come mating season.

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11. They don't hear very well

Because of their total lack of ears, it's no surprise that turtles can't hear very well. They make up for it, though, with their excellent senses of sight and smell.

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12. They have a favorite color

You have a favorite color — why can't a turtle? Scientists have discovered that turtles tend to favor the colors red, yellow and orange, probably because of their resemblances to their favorite foods.

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