Difference between Turtle and Tortoise

Main Difference

Turtle and tortoise belongs to the order of Testudines but in different classification families. Both are reptiles. There are many differences between turtle and tortoise but the main difference between turtle and tortoise is that tortoise lives on land while turtle live mostly in water all the time.


turtleTurtle is reptile of the order Chelonii or Testudines characterized by a special bony or cartilaginous shell developed from their ribs and acting as a shield. Its kingdom is Animalia; phylum is Chordata; clade is Testudinata; and order is Testudines. Turtles are ectotherms as their internal temperature varies according to the ambient environment, commonly called cold-blooded. However, because of their high metabolic rate, leatherback sea turtles have a body temperature that is noticeably higher than that of the surrounding water.


 tortoiseTortoise belongs to the family Testudinoidea and is a land dwelling vertebrate. Tortoises are shielded from predators by a shell. The top part of the shell is carapace, the underside is the plastron, and the two are connected by the bridge. Tortoise are generally reclusive animals. Its kingdom is Animalia; phylum is Chordata; order is Testudines; suborder is Cryptodira; superfamily is Testudinoidea; and family is Testudinidae. They can vary in size from a few centimeters to two meters are usually diurnal animals with tendencies to be crepuscular depending on the ambient temperatures.

Key Differences

  • According to American Society if Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, “turtle describe all species of the order Testudines, regardless of whether they are land-dwelling or sea-dwelling, and tortoise is a more specific term for slow-moving terrestrial species.”
  • Turtle is usually found in Africa and America while tortoise is found in Asia, Africa and America.
  • Turtles have mostly flat and streamlined shells. Tortoises have mostly large dome shaped cells.
  • The shell of turtle is generally light-weight while tortoise contains heavier shells.
  • Turtle eats fruits, veggies, leafy vegetation and meat, hence they are omnivores. Tortoises are herbivores but some species prefer live food.

Video Explanation

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