Table of Contents :


Turtles are the only reptiles with shells. Most of them can pull their head, legs and tail into them and protect themselves from attacking enemies.

Turtles cannot live in cold areas—but they live almost everywhere else—in deserts, grasslands, lakes and seas. Some turtles live only on land, but others spend most of their life in the water. When turtles swim they travel very quickly—at speeds of up to 30 km an hour. Turtles grow to different sizes—from 10 cm to 2.5 metres in length.

The first turtles lived more than 180 million years ago. Today, many species are in danger of becoming extinct. People hunt them for food and gather their eggs. They also destroy their normal homes in order to make way for towns or farms.

Female turtles lay eggs between spring and autumn—some of them more than once during the breeding season. All turtles lay their eggs on land. They dig their holes in the ground, lay their eggs and cover them with sand or dirt. Some turtles can lay many eggs at once. The female turtle walks away after laying her eggs and leaves it to the warming of the sun to hatch the young ones.

When baby turtles hatch from the eggs they must dig their way to the surface, try to get food and protect themselves—all on their own.

Turtles are believed to belong to the longest living animals on earth—some speciescan live up to 100 years.



Sea turtles

Sea turtles live in the warm seas all over the world. They belong to the largest species. Some of them can get up to 2.5 metres long and weigh up to 700 kg. Sea turtles swim by beating their flippers, just like a bird flaps its wings.


Downloadable PDF Text- and Worksheets




  • breeding season = when animals produce babies
  • desert = a large area of land where it is always dry
  • dig =to make a hole in the earth
  • extinct = a plant or animal that doesn’t exist any more
  • female =about women; here: turtles that can produce eggs
  • flap = to move something up and down
  • flipper = the wing of a sea animal that is used for swimming
  • gather = to collect
  • hatch = when a young animal comes out of an egg
  • make way for = to move away so that there is space for something else
  • protect =defend, guard
  • shell = the hard part that covers an animal
  • size =how big something is
  • species = a group of animals that belong together
  • speed =how fast something moves
  • surface =the top layer of the earth
  • weigh = how heavy something is