How Do Turtles Move?

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According to Scholastic, turtles differ in their movements based on their terrain. On land, turtles walk on the tip of their toes and move quite slowly, but in water a turtle’s smooth shell and webbed feet allow it to move more freely. Some freshwater turtles can even move faster on land than land turtles.

Some turtles may even run. These are soft-shelled and have leathery skin covering their bony plates rather than horny scales. Other types, such as sea turtles, have limited capabilities due to their heart-shaped bodies and front flippers being longer than their hind ones. According to Oceana, the hawksbill sea turtle moves its flippers diagonally in opposite directions when walking on land and tends to be found in lower-density areas rather than beaches. In addition Scholastic notes that other land turtles, such as the box turtle, not only claw at the ground but repeatedly fall on their backs. According to Wikipedia, many turtles must go above water because they need to refill their lungs with oxygen. This is the same for tortoises who do not have a diaphragm; they need to move their front legs in and out to move air between their lungs. Similarly, a tortoise’s weight can cause slow movement; those found in the Galapagos Islands weigh 500 pounds.