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World Turtle Day – May 23

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Since the year 2000, May 23rd has become World Turtle Day and it is reserved for celebrating turtles and tortoises all around the world. This holiday was invented and sponsored by the American Tortoise Rescue with the sole purpose to educate people and encourage them to take action to help to save these amazing species.

The American Tortoise Rescue was founded in 1990. The organization is certified to provide protection for all species of turtles and tortoises. They provide rescue and care for all foundlings, and for those that cannot be found forever home remain in their shelters.

Quick Tips From the American Tortoise Rescue:

  • Never buy a turtle or tortoise from a pet shop. This increases their demand from the wild.
  • Never take and remove turtles or tortoises from the wild unless they’re injured and you plan to take them to a wildlife vet.
  • If you find a tortoise trying to cross the street and you want to help, pick it up and move in the direction it was headed. If you take it back it will try to cross the street again.
  • Selling a turtle or tortoise smaller than 4 inches is illegal in the US. If you know someone that is selling report them.
  • If you have knowledge of illegal sales or animal cruelty towards turtles and tortoises report them to your local animal control office.
turtle swimming under water

Interesting Facts About Turtles

  • There are more than 300 turtle species in the world, of which seven are sea turtles.
  • Even though sea turtles live in the water, they still need to go to the surface to breathe air. Anyway, they can stay underwater for up to two hours, before they need to surface.
  • The oldest animal on the planet is a tortoise named Jonathan. He is a Giant tortoise from Seychelles and he is at least 185 years old.
  • The largest turtle species is the Leatherback sea turtle, and it’s on the endangered species list.
  • Pet turtles can transmit Salmonella to people.
  • Male sea turtles stay in the ocean all their lives. Only the females go on land to lay the eggs.
  • Turtles can be found all over the world.
  • The largest species of turtles weigh more than 1000 pounds.
  • The hard outer shell of the turtle is, in fact, a modified rib cage and not an exoskeleton as most people tend to think.
  • Turtles have a second lower shell, called a plastron.
  • Turtles make noises. They are not as loud as a cat or a dog, but they have a range of vocal sounds that can sound like barking or clucking.
  • In some turtle species, the gender of the turtle is determined by the temperature the eggs are hatched in.
  • Turtles and tortoises aren’t quite the same thing.
  • Baby turtles lose their first baby tooth one hour after hatching.
baby tortoise eating a strawberry

What Can You do to Shell-a-brate World Turtle Day?

  • Visit a petting zoo and go observe the habitat of the tortoise. Take some fresh vegetables to feed them. But be careful! They bite!
  • Read tortoise books and watch the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movies.
  • Visit the turtles at an aquarium and look for live online videos of when baby turtles are expected to hatch.
  • Play the tortoise and the hare game and take turns running races.
  • Draw turtles, and color them in.

Be part of the celebration of World Turtle Day this year on social media. Visit the hashtags #WorldTurtleDay and #ILoveVeterinary and see how other people celebrate it.

Don’t be shy and send us your pics and videos, you never know – we might just publish them and then you have bragging rights for a year!

baby turtle making its way to the sea

Happy World Turtle Day!

If you liked this article, you can check out our other article on National Purebred Dog Day, which is also celebrated in May!

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