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Home / Spotlight on terrific tortoises: The slow but amazing wonders of nature!

Spotlight on terrific tortoises: The slow but amazing wonders of nature!

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Love tortoises? So we do! These shell-tastic creatures might not be speed demons, but they will quickly plod their way into your heart with their amazing qualities and friendly nature. Let’s dive into the wonderful world of tortoises and learn some fun facts along the way!

Common name: Tortoise

Scientific name: Testudines or Chelonia


Slow and steady wins the race

You probably know the famous story of the tortoise and the hare. Well, guess what? Tortoises are actually known for their incredible patience and perseverance! While they might not be sprinters like the hare, their steady pace helps them cover long distances. Depending on the size, age and species of the tortoise, they can travel up to 100km a day. That’s the more than two marathons!

Shell-ebrity status

Tortoises have their own superpower – a protective shield they can carry anywhere, a bit like Captain America! Their shell is a fantastic home on their backs, a tough portable fortress that keeps them safe from predators. It’s made of bone and special plates called ‘scutes’ and a tortoise can hide its head and legs inside the shell. So, every part of them is protected from tip to toe!

Ageless wonders

Imagine living for more than 150 years – well many tortoises do just that! The oldest known tortoise is said to be 190 years old. His name is Jonathan and he’s a Seychelles giant tortoise who lives in the South Atlantic Island of St. Helena. What’s their secret to a long life? A healthy diet, a safe habitat and, of course, taking things nice and slow.

Herbivore heroes

Tortoises are vegetarian, or herbivores as we call it in the animal kingdom. This means they only munch on plant, fruits and veggies. They’re like nature’s gardeners, helping to keep the ecosystem balanced. These slow eaters take their time savouring each bite and are not in a hurry to finish their leafy meals.

Smart cookies

Tortoises may look like lumbering rocks but a slow speed doesn’t mean a sluggish brain.  In fact, tortoises are incredibly clever! They can learn and remember things, just like you do in school. Some tortoises can even recognise their favourite humans and remember their feeding regimes.

Tiny to tremendous tortoises

Tortoises come in all sizes. The huge Galapagos tortoise is one of the largest weighing a whopping 227 kg, which is more than a lion! On the other hand, the tiny speckled padloper tortoise is less than 10cm long and weighs only 0.1kg, approximately. That’s a big difference between the two!

When is a tortoise not a tortoise?

When it’s a turtle! Scientifically, all tortoises are turtles – that is they belong to the order Testudines or Chelonia. These are reptiles who have bodies encased in a bony shell. But not all turtles are tortoises. This is because tortoises are land animals, with feet for walking (slowly). Sea turtles live in oceans and instead of feet have flippers for swimming. They only come on land to lay their eggs. Then, there are terrapins, a group of fresh water turtles that have feet and spend time in and out of the water. They especially love to sunbathe on logs or rocks next to the water on sunny days.

Meet a tortoise!

Want to know what a tortoise shell feels like? Or maybe you’d love to see just how slowly tortoises move (it might be faster than you’d think!).

Book a Lion Learners experience for your school, event or party and meet one of our terrific tortoises plus lots of other awesome animals. It’s a truly magical experience that you’ll never forget.

To book or get more information, please contact us.

Or find out more about Lion Learners experiences.

Caring for our animals

Animal welfare is at the heart of everything we do. Many of our animals have been rescued from neglect or adopted from people who can no longer care for them. The animals live with their presenter in special habitats with the best possible enrichment. This encourages stimulation and natural behaviours. By living in our homes, we are able to form exceptionally strong bonds with the animals. It also lets us keep a very close eye on them to make sure they are happy, healthy and willing to socialise. It’s crucial that our animals’ needs are met and they are comfortable in any situation.

We carefully pick the species we choose to share our lives with, to ensure that we are able to meet their needs. This is why you won’t find us travelling with animals such as meerkats or racoons.

When you meet us, it will quickly become obvious how much we love our animals. We hope you will love them as much as we do!


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