World Turtle Day
International Day to End Obstetric Fistula
Lucky Penny Day
National Taffy Day
World Crohn’s and Colitis Day
World Turtle Day
World Turtle Day takes place annually on 23 May. Tortoises and Turtles comprise some of the most amazing and endangered reptiles on the planet, so World Turtle Day was set up to increase respect and knowledge of Turtles and Tortoises and to encourage human action to help them survive and thrive. Turtle Day Is sponsored by American Tortoise Rescue, and celebrated worldwide in a variety of ways, from dressing up as turtles or wearing green summer dresses, to saving turtles caught on highways, and research activities. Turtle Day lesson plans and craft projects encourage teaching about turtles in classrooms.
Turtles are diapsids of the order Testudines (or Chelonii) characterized by a special bony or cartilaginous shell developed from their ribs and acting as a shield. “Turtle” may refer to the order as a whole (American English) or to fresh-water and sea-dwelling testudines (British English). The order Testudines includes both extant (living) and extinct species. The earliest known members of this group date from 220 million years ago, making turtles one of the oldest reptile groups and a more ancient group than snakes or crocodilians. Of the 356 known species alive today, some are highly endangered.
Tortoises also belong to the family Testudinidae under the order Testudines and suborder Cryptodira. There are fourteen extant families of the order Testudines, an order of reptile commonly known as turtles, tortoises, and terrapins. The suborder Cryptodira (Greek: hidden neck) is a suborder of Testudines that includes most living tortoises and turtles. Cryptodira differ from Pluerodia (side-neck turtles) in that they lower their necks and pull the heads straight back into the shells, instead of folding their necks sideways along the body under the shells’ marginals.The testudines are some of the most ancient reptiles alive. Tortoises are shielded from predators by a shell. The top part of the shell is the carapace, the underside is the plastron, and the two are connected by the bridge. The carapace is fused to both the vertebrae and ribcage, and tortoises are unique among vertebrates in that the pectoral and pelvic girdles are inside the ribcage rather than outside. Tortoises can vary in size from a few centimeters to two meters. They are usually diurnal animals with tendencies to be crepuscular depending on the ambient temperatures. They are generally reclusive animals. Tortoises are the longest living land animal in the world, although the longest living species of tortoise is a matter of debate. Galápagos tortoises are noted to live over 150 years, but an Aldabra giant tortoise named Adwaita may have been the longest living at an estimated 255 years. In general, most tortoise species can live 80-150 years.
Both Turtles and tortoises are ectotherms—animals commonly called cold-blooded—meaning that their internal temperature varies according to the ambient environment. However, because of their high metabolic rate, leatherback sea turtles have a body temperature that is noticeably higher than that of the surrounding water. Turtles are classified as amniotes, along with other reptiles, birds, and mammals. Like other amniotes, turtles breathe air and do not lay eggs underwater, although many species live in or around water. The study of turtles is called cheloniology, after the Greek word for turtle. It is also sometimes called testudinology, after the Latin name for turtles.
American Tortoise Rescue (ATR) was founded in 1990, by Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson, and is certified by state and federal agencies as a nonprofit corporation to provide for the protection of all species of tortoise and turtle, including Foundlings that cannot be adopted because of ill health, which remain in the care of American Tortoise Rescue for the remainder of their lives. The American Tortoise Rescue also advocate humane treatment of all animals, including reptiles.
The day is featured in Chase’s Book of Annual Events, and was created as an annual observance to help people celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world. Since 1990, ATR has placed about 3,000 tortoises and turtles in caring homes. ATR assists law enforcement when undersize or endangered turtles are confiscated and provides helpful information and referrals to persons with sick, neglected or abandoned turtles. Armed with knowledge and passion for these gentle animals, we can come together to preserve Turtle and Tortoise species throughout the world.