What Is a Group of Turtles Called?

group-turtles-called Credit: Berit Watkin/CC-BY 2.0

A group of turtles may be called a bale, turn, dole, or nest. The collective terms “bale” and “turn” seem to apply exclusively for turtles. Dole, on the other hand, may also be used to refer to another group of animals, which is a group (or flock) of doves. Groups of other reptiles, particularly snakes and vipers, as well as toads, wasps, termites, ants, and scorpions can also be called a “nest” collectively.

Turtles 101

Turtles are among the oldest reptiles in the world, with experts estimating their species to being around since 220 million years ago. Among all vertebrates or animals with backbones, turtles are the only ones with a hard shell. Contrary to popular belief, a turtle shell is actually made of up to 61 bones that are covered with plates. The top part of a turtle’s shell is called a carapace while the bottom is called a plastron. Species of this animal can be found in a wide variety of habitats from small bodies of water in the park to arid, water-scarce deserts. Some species of this reptile can live up to 150 years old.

Turtles, Tortoises, and Terrapins: What’s the Difference?

It would be technically wrong to refer to this entire taxonomic family of reptiles as turtles, because these particular reptiles belong to subcategories such as turtles, tortoises, or terrapins. Experts refer to this family of reptiles as chelonians. Turtles are a particular group that spends most of their time in water such as sea turtles. Tortoises, on the other hand, live on land such as the Galapagos tortoise. Terrapins are at home both on water and on land, but don’t live far from a body of water.

Interesting Facts About Turtles

Some turtles have specialized senses and homing systems. So far, scientists haven’t been able to explain how these senses work. Sea turtles, for example, can travel thousands of miles across the sea on the same routes to return to the same beach every two to three years to lay their eggs. Their chosen nesting grounds also happen to be the same beach where they were born. Leatherback turtles, the largest sea turtle, are known to travel some 10,000 miles.

⁃ Turtle eggs are either oblong or round like ping pong balls. Some species will lay a few at a time, while others can lay more than 100 eggs.

⁃ Aquatic turtles have a variety of ways to stay underwater for long periods. Certain species pumps water through their throats and mouths where a special lining of blood vessels can extract oxygen.

⁃ There are a special group of turtles that can stay underwater for days at a time. They can accomplish this feat by breathing through their "cloaca." In layman's terms, the cloaca is the butt, which is why these kinds of turtles are referred to as butt-breathers.

⁃ Unlike in the cartoons, turtles are unable to come out of their shells. They are also unlikely to become too big for it as the shells grow along with them. 

Collective Nouns and Terms of Venery

Collective nouns are words that call or represent a collection of people, animals and things of the same kind. While similar to count nouns, collective nouns are not quantified but are used to identify a group of similar people, animals, and objects as a single unit.

Collective nouns encompass a larger set of words that identify group. Words such as team, family, panel, and committee are all collective nouns. Words that are used to identify a group of animals, while still considered as collective nouns, are also called “terms of venery.” These words have a more interesting and fanciful history.

Terms of venery, literally meaning terms of hunting, is a practice of assigning a word to identify a group of similar animals. The practice dates as far back the late 1400s in a book that was written by Dame Juliana Berners about hunting and falconry.

Other Interesting Terms of Venery

Some might think that it is unusual to call a group of turtles as a bale or a turn. However, other terms of venery are even more unusual. The following are just some of them.

⁃ a murmuration of starlings

⁃ a flamboyance of flamingos

⁃ an incredulity of cuckolds

⁃ a shrewdness of apes

⁃ a parliament of crows

⁃ a bloat of hippopotamuses

⁃ a convocation of eagles

⁃ an ambush of tigers

⁃ a business of lemurs

⁃ a descent of woodpeckers

Some unusual collective nouns are also used on a particular group of people. These include a “misbelief” of painters, a “damning” of jurors, and a “superfluity” of nuns.

Meta description: Find out what a group of turtles are called. More than just collective nouns, terms for groups of animals are on a league of their own.