10 Best Tortoises Facts, Can tortoises swim?

Before analyzing whether Can tortoises swim? or cannot swim we first have to know what they are and what is the basic difference between a turtle and a tortoise? And what distinguishes them from each other. They both are basically reptiles as they represent the characteristics of reptilian family members. The major discriminating factor is that tortoises live on land whereas turtles are water-oriented creatures.

We all have listened to the moral of the story “Slow and steady wins the race”. So our tortoise brother just didn’t survive that race but they also survived the earth even before the dinosaurs and their origins take them back to life before humans. Here in this article, we will share this basic difference “can tortoise swim?”

Turtles swim but tortoises don’t. Here is why?

As they look too similar to each other people confuse the tortoise and turtle so much that they even put their life on stake without even knowing their basic species characteristics. There was a video on the internet lately in which a woman tried to save this being without even knowing that if it was a turtle or tortoise and she threw it into the water and the little creature was a tortoise that they can’t even swim. And this provoked so many people to question this: “Can tortoises swim?”

Can tortoises swim?

The clear and simple answer to this question is “NO!” Tortoises can’t swim they can hardly even float though there are some species that can swim to a lesser extent they are very rare also. Mostly cannot swim and when placed in water they will simply drown and die.

As most people don’t know they try to save them while considering the tortoise as a baby turtle and unintentionally doing a cruel action.  That’s why it is important for us to give you the information about this question: Can tortoises swim?

Why can’t turtles swim?

This confusion comes from the confusion of extreme similarity among tortoises and turtles. As they are quite closer to each other even in their nature it is hard for any person to identify the differences. The main differences from which you can spot out whether it’s a turtle or a tortoise lies in their physical structure and functioning. These physical features are going to explain the answer to this most asked question: Can tortoises swim.

Paddles or feet tarantulas:

The main reason why tortoises can’t swim lies in their feet, paddle or flippers. Turtle’s feet are like those flippers which you wear while you scuba dive which helps you to efficiently propel the water and to easily swim whereas the tortoise feet are clawed with more appendages and finger-like projections much similar to an elephant’s feet. So these feet are more suitable to walk on land than to swim in the water.

If you clearly see the feet of both turtle and tortoise you will see that tortoise foot is designed in such a way so that they can lift their heavily shelled body up from the land whereas, a turtle’s feet are more of like a hover which helps them to push the ground or land surface rather walk on it.

The shape of the shell:

The other leading factors which contribute to the no swimming of tortoises are their shell sizes and weight. A turtle’s shell is quite light and shallow, perfect for seawater swimming whereas a tortoiseshell is quite heavy and dome-shaped which makes them unfit for swimming.

Why do tortoises drown?

As the physiology of tortoises is such that they bear heavy shells and also their feet are clawed. It is very accidental for a tortoise to swim; they can hardly float. It is a fair chance that a tortoise can’t survive the heavy waves of a sea but can float on the still water. Please do this only under professional guidance for clarification. These accidents result in severe damage to these species which in turn has led us to write an article on this topic can tortoise swim.

Major confusing factor about tarantulas:

The one thing that people mistake is their habitat. The thing is sea turtles and some tortoises make their nest and hatch their eggs not far from the sea so people mistake the tortoise with the turtle. Also when they hatch and are in the baby condition they are very hard to discriminate against. As soon as they come out of their eggs baby turtles rush to the seawater whereas the tortoise may be out there for the sun and people mistake them as turtles in order to save their lives. Do they do a pitiful practice of throwing them in the sea without even knowing that they are turtles or tortoises? This is a very unprofessional way to handle. We know that you want to help but if you really want to do this then first go on the internet and thoroughly go through the information which discriminates against a turtle and tortoise and make the answer to this most asked question can tortoise swim very clear.

Why do some tortoises survive and others do not?

We might have heard some miracle stories of tortoises about being in the water for the long run and they had still survived the odds. The thing is tortoises have to evacuate oxygen from their lungs even before moving into their shells. Therefore, they have the capability of holding their breath for a long time. But these are rare cases in which the situation is such that along with holding their breath they still survive but in most cases as they are not made up for water they sink or drown and die.

Is floating a thing for a tortoise?

Some tortoises can float majorly cannot. The floating factor is mainly determined by their weight and age. There are certain conditions that have to be optimal for a tortoise to float like the stillness of water or majorly luck. On a short note tortoises are usually large in size then turtles. 

Do they prefer to swim?

Tortoise in their natural habitat does not prefer to swim because they are made up of land and not for the water. They majorly avoid coming in contact with water though as we all bathe to clean and freshen up ourselves they also like to bathe themselves once in a while majorly they don’t like water.

Pet tortoises, on the other hand, are found to be more inclined towards water than their wild neighbor tortoise. They enjoy a bath up time with their owner. It is not advised to leave a tortoise alone in the water because they have large shells and they can easily get rolled over and can die due to drowning.

Are baby tortoise swimmers?

Many people think that like a frog in their tadpole phase can swim so as the other reptiles or amphibians can do too but that is not the case even in their baby age they cannot swim or have structures that help them to swim either. In fact, they can’t even hold their breath for long as they are babies and their lungs are smaller than adults which make them die even sooner than an adult tortoise.

10 facts about Can tortoises swim?

Here we are with some facts and certainties that show us the basic differences as well as distinct features. We hope that this can create a very understanding picture and clears our concept related to this question: Can tortoise swim. 

A tortoise is a turtle but a turtle is not a tortoise.

The term turtle is any shelled reptile having scales and a shell but the word “tortoise” is restricted towards a specific region. Tortoises have elephant-like toed feet whereas turtles have hover or flippers with a more flat shell which is also light in weight as compared to tortoises.

“Creep” is a small colony of tortoises.

It’s very rare to see a “creep” because tortoises usually like to roam alone. Some mothers protect their nests with this technique but once the eggs are hatched they will all take their own way.

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Roman military practices were inspired by tortoises.

They got inspired by their shells. During a blockade situation, the soldiers gather and cover them with shields from all four sides forming a “TESTUDO” position derived from the word tortoise.

Tortoises have both exoskeleton as well as endoskeleton. 

Their shell forms the exoskeleton where ribs and other bone structures form the endoskeleton which you never see but is present under their shells.

Scaling pattern on their shell is called “Scrutes”.

The tortoiseshell is made even stronger with Scrutes. These Scrutes help them to save the plates present in the shell. The circles present around the Scrutes can give you an estimate of the tortoise’s age.

Light colored shell tells about the origin.

The lighter the color of the shell, warmer is the area in which a specific species of a tortoise is found.

Not swimmers, but breathe holders.

Tortoises are not made up of swimming but are rather made up to travel on land. However, they can evacuate air from their lungs to hold their breath at maximum.

Shells are “touch-sensitive”

We think that shell is a dead part of a turtle or a tortoise which they just use to hide in but the shells are as same as any other bone structures and have nerve endings as well as sensory receptors in it. So, they can feel any kind of touch, pat or rub. Some like it (turtles) while others don’t (tortoises).

Their sexual capability is determined by their size and not their age.

You can’t tell if a tortoise is a boy or a girl until they reach a certain size and weight. The main factor is “Plastron” it is flat in females while bent in males. Also when they bathe or come in water their private parts may be exposed especially in males.

They will not die soon due to lack of water

The tortoise has an amazing digestive system and they can conserve water in the best possible way by a two-way digestive system. When the water is scarce their digestive system will re-digest the food extracting the water and they will defecate only the solid stuff that looks like white toothpaste.

10 ways tortoises swim

  • Tortoise do not swim
  • They hardly float.
  • Their shell is heavy.
  • They have clawed toes.
  • They don’t have mechanisms to hold their breath for long.
  • They don’t have hovers or flippers like turtles.
  • After hatching you may see around them the sea but they are just there for a sun
  • A tortoise can be seen in shallow waters just for a quick bath only.
  • They refrain from water.
  • They can evacuate air from their lungs to hold their breath to survive water.

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Question and answers

Can tortoises swim underwater?

No, they cannot swim underwater. They can hardly float as their body is not made up to cope up with water so they cannot swim.

Can tortoises swim in pools?

Some tortoises can float and if the water is still they may be able to do it for a longer period as long as the water is not so deep.

Do tortoises swim in the ocean?

No tortoises are animals that naturally walk upon the land and not to swim or dive underwater.

Can tortoises swim underwater?

No, they cannot swim underwater as they don’t have any mechanisms to do so.

We can now expect from you that you should avoid doing any kind of danger to this creature. This article is meant to lower the rate of accidents that may have occurred in the past.

You can know further details about a tortoise on our website TheZoologicalWorld.com

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