Did you know turtles and tortoises aren’t the same thing at all? It’s cool, Mama. We were today years old when we found out, too. Typically, tortoises dwell on land, and turtles spend most of their time in the water. That’s why it could actually be cruel to “help” that turtle back to the water if you see him crossing the road — you might be drowning him if you toss a tortoise into the lake. Don’t let yourself get too caught up in the specifics, though. Calling a tortoise a turtle isn’t going to make you look silly. Sure, it might cost you a win on Jeopardy, but still. You’ll get no judgment here. Rather, we created some turtle coloring pages to help you get to know these super-cool reptiles even better.
Just like there is a ton to learn about turtles, there is a ton to learn from coloring. The tortoise will tell you that slow and steady wins the race, but how does one practice being “slow and steady”? It turns out that coloring can help! Sitting down with coloring pages and practicing staying inside the lines offers many benefits for your kiddos. In particular, they learn self-control and determination. Both of those traits come in handy later in life, no? Coloring also requires literal steadiness and hand-eye coordination needed to shade in those tiny details. Who knew this fun activity could be so useful?
If your kids are into coloring and dig turtles, tortoises, or terrapins, it’s your lucky day. We have free, printable turtle coloring pages below — and tons of fascinating facts for the Testudines fan. (FYI: Testudines are the special group of reptiles to which turtle-like creatures belong.) And once your little one finishes these, they can continue their zoological exploration with our dolphin coloring pages, caterpillar coloring pages, parrot coloring pages, and more.
Free Turtle Coloring Pages
Turtle No. 1
Did you know turtle shells aren’t really shells at all? The turtle’s shell is part of its skeletal system and makes up its spine and ribs. All told, the “shell” comprises some 50 different bones. But don’t think that shell holds them back — for a few turtles, slow just isn’t their style. Some turtles can swim up to 22 miles per hour!
Turtle No. 2
This happy little fella is a sea turtle. He looks small here, but some sea turtles, like the leatherback, can grow to weigh as much as 1,000 pounds! Their smallest cousins, the Kemp’s ridley turtles, are still pretty impressive in size. They top out at between 80 to 100 pounds.
Turtle No. 3
- Many sea turtles are on the endangered species list. What makes this fact truly tragic is that turtles are the oldest surviving reptiles on Earth — they lived during the age of dinosaurs and survived that mass extinction. Their existence dates back more than 200 million years ago. Sadly, they’re no match for human carelessness.
- Unfortunately, sea turtles consume a lot of plastic because of pollution. In 1993, scientists found that 51 percent of loggerheads and dead turtles had tummies filled with pieces of plastic bags. So remember to recycle and keep our oceans clean!
Turtle No. 4
Despite being endangered, turtles can live surprisingly long lives. The average tortoise lives 70 to 80 years, but in rare cases, they live to be 100. The most notable exception? A St. Helena giant tortoise named Jonathan is believed to be 189 years old. That doesn’t just make him the oldest living tortoise, but the oldest living animal. And, yes, we are obviously obsessed with Jonathan.
Turtle No. 5
Fun fact: Mama sea turtles come to the beach and dig giant holes in the sand to lay their eggs (dozens at a time). From there, the eggs will incubate under the sand. They’ll all hatch and dig their ways to the surface at the same time. As you probably guessed, turtles have an excellent sense of direction because they use the earth’s magnetic pull to guide them to where they need to go.
Turtle No. 6
What makes a turtle a male or female? The temperature of the nest and the sand that surrounds it. That typically means that, yes, most of the turtles in one nest are all probably the same gender. Can you imagine having 20 sisters? We’d rather not!
Turtle No. 7
Of course, most of the hatched turtles won’t survive until adulthood or even their childhood. Researchers estimate that only one in 1,000 hatchlings (like this little cutie) will survive to adulthood. There are many contributing factors to this sad statistic. From natural predators to porch lights, many things are to blame.
Turtle No. 8
Contrary to popular belief, turtles can’t remove themselves from their shells. As previously mentioned, those shells are part of their skeletons, and we all need those to function and survive. (Some of us could really use a new hip, though. Tradesies?)
Turtle No. 9
What do turtles eat? Just like human food changes based on location and culture, turtle food is the same. Tortoises eat a lot of vegetation. Green sea turtles also prefer vegetation, surviving mainly on the seaweed that gives them their unique colors. It turns out that just about all sea turtles love jellyfish, though! Some turtles are completely carnivorous, like the alligator snapping turtle. They weigh more than 200 pounds and have a bite force of 1,000 pounds.
Turtle No. 10
This turtle looks a lot like the leatherback sea turtle, which travels about 10,000 miles a year and holds the deepest dive record of nearly 4,000 feet. This type of turtle is extremely heavy. They can weigh anywhere between 600 to 2,000 pounds! Like many species of turtles, leatherbacks can be found in oceans around the world. There’s even a cold-resistant Arctic leatherback sea turtle that can survive in, duh, the Arctic. And did you know sea turtles are long-distance travelers? Scientists tracked a turtle that swam more than 9,000 miles from California to Japan. That means no matter where you live, you’re sure to meet a turtle someday. Until then, these turtle coloring pages will have to do.
Turtle No. 11
It’s a bit of a mystery where turtles spend the first 20 years of their lives. Scientists have a hard time tracking them after they hatch. Research shows some turtles don’t travel straight across the Atlantic. A few species swim around in the same area for a while before moving forward.
Click here to print all of the turtle coloring pages at once!
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