Types of Turtles – The four reptile groups are crocodilians, squamates (lizards and snakes), rhynchocephalians (tuatara) and turtles. Turtles are reptiles that belong to the Testudines order.
From the land-dwelling desert tortoise Gopherus agassizii to the mighty leatherback sea turtle Dermochelys coriacea, we explore 30 different kinds of turtles on this page.
How Many Different Types Of Turtles Are There?
Tortoises are among the 356 turtle species. There are around ten times as many snake species and twenty times as many lizard species as there are turtle species, accounting for just 3% of all reptiles.
The two basic kinds of turtles are side-necked Pleurodira turtles and hidden-neck Cryptodira turtles, with hidden-neck turtles accounting for roughly two thirds of all turtle species. Tortoises, terrapins, and sea turtles are examples of common tortoise species; land-living tortoises in the Testudinidae family; and small aquatic terrapins.
The heads of hidden-neck turtles (suborder Cryptodira) may be pulled straight back into their shells. In order to protect their heads in their shells, side-necked turtles (suborder Pleurodira) must move their necks sideways. A list of turtle species from across the globe may be found below.
Two of the seven sea turtle species (you may view the others on this page: Sea Turtles), North American turtles like the box, musk, and snapping turtles, and other Turtle species from various parts of the globe are among those we’ve included as pets.
Types Of Turtles Index
- African Helmeted Turtle
- Alabama Red-Bellied Cooter
- Alligator Snapping Turtle
- Arrau Turtle / Giant River Turtle
- Asian Giant Softshell Turtle
- Big-Headed Turtle
- Common Box Turtle
- Common Musk Turtle
- Common Snapping Turtle
- Desert Tortoise
- Diamondback Terrapin
- East African Black Mud Turtle
- Eastern Long-Necked Turtle
- False Map Turtle
- Florida Softshell Turtle
- Four-Eyed Turtle
- Green Sea Turtle
- Leatherback Sea Turtle
- Malaysian Giant Turtle
- Western Box Turtle / Ornate Box Turtle
- Painted Turtle
- Pig-Nosed Turtle
- Pond Slider
- Roti Island Snake-Necked Turtle
- Spiny Softshell Turtle
- Spotted Turtle
- Striped Mud Turtle
- Western Swamp Turtle
African Helmeted Turtle
The African helmeted turtle is a small side-necked turtle that can be found across Africa (including Madagascar) and Asia. Its conservation status is unknown.
This semi-aquatic species may be found in both permanent and temporary bodies of water, but prefers standing water such as lakes, swamps, and rain puddles over rivers. It is sometimes known as “crocodile turtle” and “marsh terrapin.”
Crocodiles, warthogs, hippopotamuses, buffalos, and rhinos are among the iconic African animals that share the habitat of the African helmeted turtle. Some of the bigger creatures have been shown to acquire parasite-consuming turtle infections from their bodies in recent years.
The African helmeted turtle, unlike other members of the Pelomedusidae family, does not have a hinged plastron and is therefore unable to enclose its head and front limbs in its shell by closing its plastron.
Alabama Red-Bellied Cooter
The Alabama red-bellied cooter is an endangered pond turtle species found in North America. It is the official reptile of Alabama, and it can only be found there.
The plastron of this species is orange-red, which inspired the name. Females, on average, are around 35.5 cm / 14 in long, whereas males are around 30 cm / 12 in long. In freshwater and brackish waters of the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta, the Alabama red-bellied cooter lives in thick vegetation.
Alligator Snapping Turtle
The alligator snapping turtle is one of the world’s largest freshwater turtle species, reaching weights of over 100 kg / 220 lb. and having a carapace length of over 80 cm / 2.62 ft. Softshell turtles from the Trionychidae family are the only ones that grow to comparable (or bigger) sizes.
The alligator snapping turtle is found in the southeastern United States and is named for its heavily ridged shell, which looks like that of an alligator. It lives in rivers that pour into the Gulf of Mexico.
The way in which the alligator snapping turtle eats is unusual. The turtle attracts fish by sitting motionless on the riverbed with its mouth open, luring them in with the “worm-like” tip of its tongue.
Other prey, such as birds, snakes, animals, and even other turtles, will also be eaten by the turtle. It has razor-sharp teeth that can chop off a person’s hand.
Arrau Turtle / Giant River Turtle
The Arrau turtle is the biggest side-neck turtle and non-marine turtle found throughout South and Central America. It belongs to the Podocnemididae family. The Podocnemididae family includes it.
The carapace length of this species is normally 90 cm / 35 in. Nonetheless, Arrau turtles have been reported to weigh up to 100 kg / 220 pounds. It is possible that such an event has taken place. The big river turtle is a general herbivore that will consume carrion and smaller animals when it gets the chance, while being primarily herbivorous.
Once common along the banks of the Amazon and Orinoco rivers, the Arrau turtle has seen a dramatic decline in population in recent years. Locals hunt it for food and eggs, even in places where it is outlawed.
Asian Giant Softshell Turtle
Photo: Dementia, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons (cropped / resized by ActiveWild.com)
The Asian giant softshell turtle is a Critically Endangered species that belongs to the Trionychidae family of hidden-neck turtles. It has a flat carapace without scutes (bony plates), which gives it a smooth, leathery, and somewhat “soft” feel, as do other members of this family. Adults are olive green, however juveniles have black specks on their shells and faces.
The Asian giant softshell turtle is the biggest of its family, with a carapace that can reach lengths of up to 1 m/3.28 ft. Females are significantly larger than males. Unofficial tales of people with carapace lengths of up to 1.8 m / 5.9 ft have circulated. As of now, it shares the title of biggest freshwater turtle with several other members of its family; this would make it the largest.
The Asian giant softshell is primarily carnivorous, but it may consume water plants on rare occasions. It’s an ambush hunter, and its prey is caught with a quick, outward head movement combined with a powerful bite. Habitat degradation and human consumption of individuals and eggs are rapidly depleting the species’ population.
Platysternon megacephalum is a cryptodira (hidden-neck turtle) that lives in Southeast Asia. The big-headed turtle has a disproportionately large head, as its name suggests. Half of its average body length of 40 cm / 16 inches is comprised by its head and long tail.
The turtle’s muscular, lengthy tail is utilized to help it climb over obstacles and support its entire weight. The big-headed turtle has an exceptionally powerful skull to compensate for the lack of protection, despite the fact that its head cannot retract into the shell.
Just 1 – 2 eggs per clutch are produced by the big-headed turtle, and nothing else is known about its reproductive habits. The species has been listed as Critically Endangered as a result of factors such as rising demand from the illicit pet trade and habitat destruction throughout its range.
Common Box Turtle
The common box turtle is one of six or seven species of box turtles in the genus Terrapene, which together account for the suborder Cryptodira (hidden-neck turtles).
The Yucatán box turtle is sometimes regarded as a subspecies of the common box turtle, rather than a distinct species. It is also known as the “eastern box turtle.”
A Box turtle’s plastron ishinged, allowing it to cover its shell against predators when the turtle closes its shell. The common box turtle is primarily terrestrial (land-dwelling), like all box turtles, and may be found in southern Canada, eastern United States, and northern Mexico.
Forests, shrublands, and inland wetlands are its preferred habitats. Eastern box turtles, Florida box turtles, and Mexican box turtles are all subspecies of the common box turtle.
Common Musk Turtle
Because of its capacity to secrete a foul-smelling yellowish fluid from scent glands located on its undersides, the common musk turtle is also known as the “stinkpot.” The shell of the little turtle is smooth and high-domed, measuring 7.5 to 14 cm / 3 to 5.5 inches in length. On either side of the head, there are two yellow stripes.
Southern Canada and much of the eastern United States are home to the common musk turtle. It spends less time basking than similar species and can be found in both flowing and still freshwater habitats. Mollusks make up the majority of its diet.
Common Snapping Turtle
Scientific name: Chelydra serpentina Suborder: Cryptodira (hidden-neck turtles) Family: Chelydridae Where found: North America (introduced: Asia) Conservation status: Low concern. It is the only snapping turtle species that may be found in the United States and Canada. It is the most widely distributed of the three.
Several predators hunt snapping turtle eggs and hatchlings, but the species is relatively secure from predation once it grows to a certain size. Adult snappers have only been documented as prey on bears, alligators, and river otters. Snapping turtles are solitary, and when they’re unhappy, they’ll attack.
By decapitating other turtles with its strong jaws, it has been documented to kill them, which experts believe is due to territoriality.
The common snapping turtle is an omnivore that feeds on aquatic plants as well as foraging for carrion and aggressively hunting a variety of animals, including waterfowl and tiny mammals. It usually employs an ambush strategy, waiting for its prey to draw near before launching an attack.
While the typical specimen is significantly smaller, the common snapping turtle has a maximum carapace length of 50 cm / 19 inches and a maximum weight of 35 kg / 77 lb. The tail, shell, and body of this species are nearly equally long.
The desert tortoise is indigenous to the United States and belongs to the Cryptodira (hidden-neck turtles) suborder. It can be found in California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona dry shrublands.
Females lay 1 clutch per year, each of which may contain between 1 and 14 eggs (the average is 3 to 5 eggs.) The yolk provides the infant with enough nutrients not only for its development inside the egg, but also for up to 6 months after hatching.
Herbivores, like desert tortoises, 95 to 98% of their lives are spent underground. Long claws allow them to be effective diggers, and they are outfitted with large teeth.
Males have a weight of 20 kg / 44 pounds, whereas females have a lower weight. A female weighing approximately 13 kg / 28 pounds In terms of weight, they are roughly equivalent. The shell length of both sexes is 25.4 to 40 cm (10 to 15.7 in).
Habitat loss and habitat fragmentation, both caused by human activity, are the two primary threats to this highly endangered species.
Diamondback Terrapin / Terrapin
The diamondback terrapin is a Cryptodira (hidden-neck turtle) that may be found near the shore in the eastern and southern United States. It lives in brackish waters (freshwater in estuaries, creeks, swamps, and marshes) instead of freshwater, which is uncommon among reptiles.
To avoid dehydration, it must remain close to freshwater. The female terrapin, like sea turtles, locates a nesting site above the high tide line on beaches.
Between the months of April through July, it deposits anywhere from 4 to 18 eggs (some studies suggest up to 25) here. It takes 80 to 90 days for eggs to incubate.
Accidental capture in crab pots meant for the blue crab, an edible crustacean, is one of the main threats to the diamondback terrapin across most of its range.
The terrapins get into the crab pots and die as a result of being unable to escape. A loss of breeding habitats due to agricultural and residential expansion, as well as being hit by automobiles and boats, are other contributing factors to the diamondback terrapin’s demise.
East African Black Mud Turtle
Photo: Abu Shawka, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons (cropped / resized by ActiveWild.com)
The East African black mud turtle, also known as the Pan terrapin and the black-bellied hinged terrapin, is a species found in Africa. It can be found in eastern and southeastern Africa, especially in the tropics and sub-tropics.
The carapace of the species is mostly smooth with yellow lines on its margins and measures 13 to 20 cm / 5.1 to 7.9 inches in length.
The East African black mud turtle is an omnivore that eats fish, invertebrates, and plants. During the night, it is most active. While readily handled, this species is aggressive towards other turtles and can be kept as a pet.
Eastern Long-Necked Turtle
Photo: jjron [CC BY-SA 3.0] (cropped / resized by ActiveWild.com)
Chelodina longicollis is a freshwater turtle that lives in Australia’s southeastern region. It is named after its unusually long neck. When the turtle stretches its head and neck out, it adds another 25 cm / 9.84 in to its overall length.
The lifespan of the eastern long-necked turtle is up to 37 years. Fish, mollusks, crustaceans, tadpoles, and other aquatic invertebrates are among the turtle’s prey. Terrestrial insects will also be caught on occasion.
The species has a peculiar defense mechanism when it is threatened by a predator: it release a horrible-smelling yellow fluid from its musk glands. It’s also been known to attack a approaching predator by retracting its head and jaws into its shell.
False Map Turtle
The false map turtle is one of 14 species of map turtles, all of which are named for their resemblance to maps due to their patterned markings. In the Mississippi-Missouri basin, the false map turtle may be found in large streams. The species is also known as the Mississippi map turtle.
The female is around twice the length of the male, measuring 20 – 27 cm / 7.9 – 10.6 in., whereas the male measures 9 – 14 cm / 3.5 – 5.5 in.
False map turtles have temperature-dependent sex determination, with colder nests producing all-male clutches and warmer nests producing all-female clutches, as do other turtle and tortoise species.
Florida Softshell Turtle
The Florida softshell turtle is the biggest member of the Trionychidae family of softshell turtles, which may be found in North America. The species lives in slow-moving and still bodies of freshwater in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama. It is endemic to (only found in) the United States.
The sex of the hatchlings is completely genetic and unaffected by nest temperature, unlike most other turtle and tortoise species. Individuals have a wide range of hues, from dark olive green to brown. In Florida, it’s the darkest softshell turtle. White plastrons are common.
The Florida softshell turtle has a leathery and delicate shell lacking firm, bony scutes, much like other softshell turtles. The females of this species are up to four times bigger than the males, indicating sexual dimorphism. The size of a female’s clutch is believed to be proportional to her size.
François Charles, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons (cropped / resized by ActiveWild.com)
The four-eyed turtle is a species of Geoemydidae that can be found in East and Southeast Asia. It is critically endangered because it has two – sometimes four – fake eye spots on the back of its head.
Both sexes of four-eyed turtles grow to be 11–15 cm / 4.3–5.9 in long. The length of the rope is approximately. The male has blue-green eye specks, whereas the female has yellow ones.
The species’ population is dwindling as a result of its exploitation in Asian cuisine and medicine, as well as the capture of wild turtles for the exotic pet trade. The species has also been impacted by habitat loss.
The carapace of this omnivorous species is yellow-tan. They don’t appear to be bothered by sharing their habitat with other creatures, including conspecifics, despite the fact that they are alone and only meet each other during the breeding season.
Green Sea Turtle
The green sea turtle is the biggest hard-shelled sea turtle, with a weight of 200 kg / 440 lb., and is only bigger than the leatherback sea turtle, which has a leathery carapace. The green sea turtle is known for the green fat beneath its carapace (which is a dark olive color).
Green sea turtles may take up to 50 years to reach sexual maturity. Females return to the same beach to lay their clutches, which they were born on. According to various research, only about 1 out of every 1000 hatchlings survives beyond their first year.
Green sea turtles are omnivores as juveniles, but their diet gradually shifts towards herbivory once they reach a certain size. This species is extremely social and may travel up to 90 kilometers (55.9 miles) in a day in large groups.
Photo: Matěj Baťha, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons (cropped / resized by ActiveWild.com)
The Hickatee, sometimes known as the central American river turtle, may be found only in Atlantic-draining rivers and lakes from southern Mexico to Belize and Guatemala.During the rainy season, when water levels are higher, it primarily lives in large, deep rivers and lakes, but will swim to other areas.
The species does not leave the water even to bask, and it is completely aquatic. It is a clumsy and sluggish walker that only emerges from the water to nest. Humans have a difficult time finding the nests of the hickatee, which is especially elusive.
The eggs of this species are unusually stable after being underwater for weeks. In flood-prone places, this boosts the odds of nest survival. Throughout Mayan times, the Hickatee was nearly hunted to extinction because it was culturally significant to ancient Mayan culture.
The hickatee is probably the most endangered turtle in its range, and the species’ situation has not improved since it was hunted for food. Despite the fact that Belize is the only nation where turtle hunting is still permitted, there is a high possibility of its extinction.
Leatherback Sea Turtle
The leatherback sea turtle is the world’s second-largest marine reptile, behind only the saltwater crocodile. It belongs to the Cryptodira (hidden-neck turtles) suborder. The species may grow to be 1.8 m (6 ft) in length. Over 450 kg / 1000 lb. in weight.
Carapace of the leatherback sea turtle is smooth, devoid of hard, bony scutes seen in the shells of hard-shelled turtles. The species’ name comes from the carapace, which has a firm yet flexible, leathery appearance.
The leatherback has the rarest of all turtle shells: a leathery one. Except for Antarctica, the leatherback has a “cosmopolitan” global range that spans the majority of the world’s oceans.
The leatherback sea turtle is a migratory species that only comes ashore to lay eggs, spending the majority of its time in open water. Because of habitat destruction and hunting, the leatherback turtle is classified as vulnerable.
Malaysian Giant Turtle
Photo: Muhammad Yeriyan Nurramadhan, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons (cropped / resized by ActiveWild.com)
Scientific name: Orlitia borneensis Suborder Cryptodira (hidden-neck turtles) Family Geoemydidae Where discovered: Indonesia and Malaysia Conservation status: Critically Endangered Malaysian Giant Turtle is one of Southeast Asia’s biggest turtle species, weighing 50 kg / 110 lb. In Peninsular Malaysia, it may be found in freshwater marshes, lakes, and rivers, as well as on Borneo and Sumatra’s islands.
Fish is the main source of food for this species, but it will also eat tiny creatures and fallen fruit. Because of hunting and habitat destruction, the Malaysian Giant Turtle is rapidly losing its population.
Both the meat and the shell are sought after by hunters, who use them in traditional Chinese medicine. Much of Malaysia’s habitat has been destroyed by the palm oil industry.
More rainforest is being destroyed to make room for plantations as the need for palm oil grows, resulting in the endangerment of numerous species.
Western Painted Turtle
The Painted Turtle can be found in ponds and lakes all over North America, and it is a least-concern species. It is found across the United States, as well as southern Canada and northern Mexico, making it the most widely distributed North American turtle.
Between 12 and 25 cm / 5 and 10 in long, the painted turtle Females are somewhat bigger than males in terms of length. It’s simple to see how this turtle acquired its name thanks to the bright yellow and red markings.
The species will frequently climb out of the water to sunbathe on logs or rocks, despite being mostly aquatic. It consumes both plant material and tiny creatures, making it an omnivore.
The painted turtle hibernates during the winter months by burying itself in the mud at the bottom of a lake. As a result, the species can live in areas that reptiles cannot survive in.
The painted turtle is a well-studied example of a vertebrate that can live without oxygen for extended periods while buried in the mud; it is unable to breathe.
Northern Australia and southern New Guinea are home to the scientific name Carettochelys insculpta, and its suborder Cryptodira (hidden-neck turtles).
The pig-nosed turtle gets its name from its peculiar, pig-like snout, which is very sensitive and aids the animal in foraging for food. It lives in freshwater marshes and rivers of northern Australia.
Flippers, rather than feet, are also characteristic of this species. In this regard, it resembles marine turtles rather than freshwater turtles in general.
The Trionychidae superfamily, or soft-shell turtles, includes the pig-nosed turtle. The pig-nosed turtle, on the other hand, has a bony carapace beneath its leathery skin, as opposed to the usual flat plate seen in other members of this group.
Red-eared slider, a subspecies of pond slider.
Trachemys scripta is a species of hidden-neck turtle that lives in the United States and northern Mexico. The pond slider, which is found in the southern and southeastern United States as well as northern Mexico, is a species of turtle that is protected.
The red-eared slider is the most well-known of the three subspecies. (The other two are yellow-bellied and Cumberland sliders.)
The pond slider’s moniker comes from its propensity to fall into the water after sliding off rocks and logs. The species spends time on both land and in the water, being semi-aquatic.
The pond slider is a popular pet turtle in both its native North America and many other regions of the globe due to its tiny size and docile nature.
Unfortunately, owing to this, it has established itself outside of its natural habitat. Native turtles and other species may be harmed if released pets are not handled properly.
Roti Island Snake-Necked Turtle
Roti Island Snake-Necked Turtle
The Roti Island snake-necked turtle is a member of the Chelidae family, and it was discovered on two islands in Southeast Asia: Rote, which is part of Indonesia, and Timor.
In the wild on Rote, the critically endangered turtle may be extinct. The snake-necked turtle of Roti Island is well-known for its neck, which may be almost as lengthy as the carapace.
The species is a coveted target for poachers owing to its great value in the illegal pet trade because of its uncommon looks. Despite the fact that this species is critically endangered, captive breeding programs have been developed to save it. (Source)
Spiny Softshell Turtle
Texas Spiny Softshell Turtle
The Apalone spinifera is a freshwater turtle that can be found throughout North America.
It belongs to the Cryptodira (hidden-neck turtles) suborder. The shell of this species has a leathery, soft texture and is named for the short spines that protrude from the front edge. The species’ long, snout-like nose is another identifying characteristic.
The spiny softshell turtle is one of the continent’s biggest freshwater turtles, with a carapace length of around 54 cm / 21 in. Males are somewhat smaller than females, who reach this size.
The Spiny Softshell Turtle is sociable and may often be observed basking in the sunlight, while most turtles are timid and reclusive. By inhaling oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide through its skin, the spiny softshell turtle is able to “breathe underwater,” making it unique among freshwater turtles.
The Clemmys Turtle is a small, semi-aquatic turtle that lives in ponds, marshes, and other wetlands throughout North America. It has a black or dark brown carapace with yellow markings that range from 9 to 13 cm (3.5 to 5 in) in length.
The spotted turtle is a retiring, reclusive species that spends the majority of its time buried in mud at the bottom of ponds and streams. The spotted turtle is an omnivore that eats little aquatic creatures like insect larvae and tiny fish, as well as plant materials like fruit and algae.
The spotted turtle is threatened by hunting from the wild, collisions with vehicles, and habitat destruction, among other things.
Striped Mud Turtle
The Striped Mud Turtle is a little, stocky turtle with a dark brown or black shell with yellowish stripes that is found in North America. Its carapace bears a prominent keel running down the center, as do those of all Kinosternidae turtles (including mud and musk turtles).
The striped mud turtle is a common species found in southern states with still and sluggish bodies of water. It’s common to see it while diving for food.
The Striped Mud Turtle is an omnivore that eats insects, snails, tiny fish, and plants and algae. The Striped Mud Turtle plays an vital role in the ecosystem, helping to regulate the population of its prey species.
Western Box Turtle / Ornate Box Turtle
Ornate Box Turtle
Scientific name: Terrapene ornata Suborder: Cryptodira (hidden-neck turtles) Family: Emydidae Conservation status: Near Threatened The western box turtle is one of six (or seven*) turtles in the genus Terrapene, commonly known as “box turtles.”
Terrestrial (land-dwelling) turtles that resemble tortoises are known as box turtles. A region west of the Mississippi and east of the Rockies, as well as south into northern Mexico, is home to the western box turtle.
The species is often found far from a body of water and inhabits prairies, pastures, and open woodlands. Males have red eyes and a red or orange patch on their throats, while females have brown eyes and no neck patch. Males and femen may be distinguished by their coloring.
Although the population of western box turtles is not presently endangered, it is declining.
The grasslands in which the turtle lives are being converted to farmland, which is mostly due to habitat loss.
Being hit by traffic or farm equipment, as well as being taken from the wild to supply the pet trade, are additional threats to the western box turtle, which has a “Vulnerable” conservation status.
The ornate box turtle, which lives in the Great Plains area of the United States, and the desert box turtle, which lives in the southwestern United States and Mexico, are two subspecies of common box turtles.
Western Swamp Turtle
Photo: Bahudhara, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons (cropped / resized by ActiveWild.com)
Scientific name: Pseudemydura umbrina Suborder: Pleurodira (side-necked turtles) Family: Chelidae Where found: Western Australia Conservation status: Critically Endangered The shell of this little species is usually no more than 15.5 cm / 6.1 inches long. Males and females are slightly different in size.
In recent years, the population of Western Swamp Turtles has decreased dramatically, making it Australia’s most endangered reptile. Habitat degradation caused by agricultural and industrial expansion is the greatest threat to the Turtle.
\Population management, captive breeding at Perth Zoo, and preservation of nature reserves are all part of the species recovery plan for this species. The Friends of the Western Swamp Tortoise are a group dedicated to the species’ conservation. (Source)