Is Turtle A Fish? Science Weighs In

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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When you think of fish or turtle, it reminds you of the water, lake, sea, or river, right? Both turtles and fish are accustomed to living aquatic life together with other aquatic species. And this concept often makes people confused about if the turtle is a fish.

A turtle is not a fish, but it is a class of animals, called reptiles. Though fish and turtles have things in common, like laying eggs, habitats, and food habits, a turtle isn’t a fish because of its legs and a hard-shelled body which are missing in fish species.

What’s the difference between fish and turtles? What does science tell about turtles? To know the answers to these questions, you must read this article. So, stay with me until the end.

A General Overview Of Turtle:

The Origin Of Turtle:

The first-ever turtles emerged around 245 million years back during the Triassic age. Scientists discovered the earliest turtles in the fossil record around 110 million years back in the Cretaceous period. They think the origin of the sea turtles is basically from marsh-inhabiting predecessors during the Triassic age. 

In the fossil records, it is obvious that Archelon Ischyros was one of the biggest sea turtles found 75 to 60 million years back. The turtle’s height and weight were respectively 15 feet and 6,000 lbs.

However, the existence of turtles has been discovered since the dinosaurs’ time. Turtles are used to living an aquatic life. They are found everywhere, including on land, river, and the sea. The ones that lived on the land is called a tortoise. The ones that lived on the river are called terrapin turtles. And the ones that lived in the sea are called sea turtles.

The Evolution Of Turtle:

Turtles are like ancient mariners who are always on the move. It’s assumed that the number of turtles has already surpassed 356 species. Initially, the turtles were found toothless and some got the ancestral tooth.

Studies show that the evolution of turtles is from the dinosaurs, modern birds, and crocodilians and some studies show that turtle is a close relative class of snakes and lizards.

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Meanwhile, early turtles had no shells, carapace, or plastron, but they possessed bony body structures. Later on, the turtle’s carapace formed from the ribbed bony structure resulting in spine flexibility reduction and turtle’s crawling speed declination.

Moreover, Desmatochelys Padillai, known as the earliest sea turtle, lived approximately 120 million years back. The turtle’s height was six feet and had all modern sea turtles’ features, like shell, carapace, and limbs like a paddle.

The leatherback is the largest sea turtle among the seven sea turtle species. Its height is around eight feet with a 2000 pounds of weight. In addition, a sea turtle is capable of laying up to 150 eggs each time. The large eggs ensure the sea turtles’ survival through hatchlings. Geo magnetic abilities in sea turtles make them special. Fishing causes danger to threatens sea turtles’ extinction.

The Life Cycle Of Turtles:

A turtle’s life cycle starts with laying eggs. They prefer sandy beaches for offspring. To lay eggs, female turtles return to the sandy beaches and lay up to 200 eggs per nest. Over the seasons, they can lay eggs in several nests. Depending on the turtle species, turtles take up to 50 days to incubate the eggs.

Hatching is quite a tiring process for female turtles. The best time for hatching is at night when the predators are less likely to attack. The surviving young sea turtle after hatching will go to the water in search of food. They are alert to avoid predators’ attacks.

All the turtle species have a complex life cycle compared to other animal species. Most sea turtles depend on the ocean for growing and feeding them. As sea turtles’ growth is pretty slow, they take up to 50 years to come of age for breeding, but it may be fast depending on the turtle species.

Most importantly, sea turtles are always on the move. For reproducing, adult turtles migrate for a long time. The distance between the turtles’ feeding place and the breeding place might be hundreds to thousands of kilometers. Female turtles nest every two to three years.

And they usually return to the place where they were born. Because of slow growth and low survival rate, it is uncertain for all sea turtles to reach adulthood.

Are Sea Turtles Fish?

Sea Turtles are not fish. They are one of the long-lived reptiles in the world and can live around 190 years on average. Due to their strong shelled body, they can avoid any attack from other predators. Like any other reptile, the turtle also has legs, mouth, eyes, nose, stomach, kidneys, and claws.

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On the contrary, fish has no legs, shelled body, and claws. Though both fish and sea turtles live in aquatic water and share the same kind of habitat and foods for survival, fish is completely different than reptile animals like sea turtles, crocodiles, and snakes.

Are Turtles Mammals?

Turtles are reptiles, not mammals. Though they have things in common between them, mammals are different animal species. Turtles are a reptile class of animal species. The key difference between mammals and turtles is their offspring.

Mammals were born from the womb of their mother. They are vulnerable from the moment they were born. They need to be taken care of by their mother until they can survive on their own. Parents feed them initially.

On the contrary, turtles come from eggs and they don’t need to be taken care of by their mother. Since their birth, they collect food on their own for survival.

What Are Turtles Classified?

Turtles are reptiles, classified as Testudines in order. The turtles and tortoise both are included in Testudines order. This order also has three suborders: Crytodira, Pleurodira, and Amphychelydia. Among them, the turtles under Amphychelydia are now extinct.

Cryptodira includes snapping turtles, freshwater turtles, soft-shelled turtles, sea turtles, and tortoises whereas Pleurodira includes the type of side-necked turtles. Besides, reptiles are a class of vertebrates, including turtles, snakes, crocodiles, and lizards.

Scientists distinguish the two sea turtle families: Family Cheloniidae, and Family Dermochelyidae. Family Cheloniidae covers all scute shelled sea turtles and the Family Dermochelyidae includes only scute-less sea turtles, the leatherback. 

Is A Turtle An Amphibian, Or Reptile?

To start, the turtle is a reptile class of animals that lays hard-shelled eggs and it has claws and bony plates. Reptiles include crocodiles, snakes, turtles, alligators, and lizards. On the flip side, the amphibian is the vertebrate animals, like frogs, salamanders, toads, and caecilians.

The difference between reptiles and amphibians is their skin. Reptiles are wild animals and have scales. On the contrary, amphibian animals are not wild and don’t have scales but have smooth moist skin.

Are Turtles And Tortoises The Same?

Turtles and tortoises are not the same they are looking exactly the same. They both have things in common, like their food habit, habitat, and offspring. But the tortoise’s shelled body shape is more rounded than the turtles.

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On the other hand, turtles’ bony plates and shells are thinner. Besides, tortoises live most of their life on the land whereas turtles are used to living in aquatic environments.

How Do You Make A Turtle Happy?

Turtles have emotions and they can express their happiness and sadness. To make them happy, you need to ensure things like providing them with a big-sized tank with clean fresh water with ideal temperature along with a basking spot. If they feel safe, secure, and relaxed, they will play with you happily.

Is A Turtle Good For A Pet?

If you are looking for an adorable, cute, quiet, and tamed pet to have a pet, a baby turtle can be a great pet for you. But turtles need much attention and care. It can be a great hassle if you cannot maintain a turtle.

All you need to do is provide the ideal habitat and ideal temperature and the foods they like to have. Why most people want to purchase a turtle as a pet is because of its adorable charm, lifespan, and low maintenance.

Do Turtles Bite?

Turtles are famous for their terrible biting attitude. Though wild turtles including sea and marine ones have a sturdy shell body like the armor as a protector, they are used to biting to avoid attack from predators.

How Much Do Turtles Cost?

From adoption to their maintenance, turtles cost you a pretty good amount. Before purchasing turtles for pets, you need to know all expenditures. The following table shows the expenditures.

Turtle Adoption  $10-$45
Adopt from Breeder$45-$100
Turtle Supply$200-$800
Health Care For Turtle$45-$200 Per Year
Turtle’s Check-Up$45-$75 Per Year
Turtle’s Food$240-$480 Per Year

Can Turtles Live With Fish?

Not all turtles can live with fish. But there are quite a few turtle species including the musk turtle, the painted turtle, the red-eared slider, and the mud turtle who can live with fish. Again, some turtles species like map turtles and snapping turtles can never inhabit each other.

What Are The Three Different Types Of Turtles?

About 360 turtle species are found on the earth. But they are divided into three groups:

Aquatic turtles, marine turtles, and land turtles.

Final Words:

So Is a turtle a fish? I hope the answer to this question has already enlightened you. Besides covering the answer, this article has also highlighted the emergence and the lifestyle of the turtles. If you want to have more insights on turtle-related topics, visit my site where I always cover turtle-related questions.

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About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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