difference between turtle and tortoise

Turtles swim, tortoises stay on land. Both lay eggs in the ground. Mother turtles dig tunnels and lay 2-12 eggs. Hatchlings incubate for 90-120 days, then emerge. Tortoise moms protect for 80 days, while turtle hatchlings are independent from birth.

Differences In Habitat

Turtles have flat shells, webbed feet with long claws. Tortoises have arched shells, short and sturdy feet with twisted legs. 

Physical Characteristics

Turtle shells are flat and streamlined for swimming, while tortoise shells are heavy and arched for protection on land. Tortoise shells are heavier compared to lighter turtle shells to prevent sinking and enhance swimming speed.


Turtles have a varied diet that can include both plants and meat, while tortoises are primarily herbivores, feeding on plant matter.


Turtles generally have shorter lifespans, ranging from 20 to 40 years, although some species can live up to 80 years. While, tortoise species have been known to live for 150 years or more.


Turtles are found in various habitats, including both land and water, while tortoises predominantly inhabit land areas. This distinction in their preferred environments reflects their distinct adaptability and physical characteristics.

Topographical Distribution