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Turtles: The Animal Answer Guide

Overview

Ever wonder how many kinds of turtles there are? Or if they have teeth? Why so many turtles have yellow stripes on their neck? If it is wise to feed turtles in your neighborhood pond or lake? Whit Gibbons and Judy Greene, two internationally known turtle biologists, provide complete answers to the most frequently asked questions about the more than 300 turtle, tortoise, and terrapin species of the world.

From the palm-sized bog turtles of the United States to the great oceanic ...

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Overview

Ever wonder how many kinds of turtles there are? Or if they have teeth? Why so many turtles have yellow stripes on their neck? If it is wise to feed turtles in your neighborhood pond or lake? Whit Gibbons and Judy Greene, two internationally known turtle biologists, provide complete answers to the most frequently asked questions about the more than 300 turtle, tortoise, and terrapin species of the world.

From the palm-sized bog turtles of the United States to the great oceanic leatherbacks, turtles across the globe are admired for their persistence, patience, and resilience. They are favorites of scientific study and beloved pets throughout the world. With a friendly mix of scientific analysis and basic encyclopedic coverage, Gibbons and Greene discuss a broad range of turtle topics, including behavior, ecology, reproduction and development, turtle-human relationships, and the appearance of turtles in popular literature.

With attractive photographs and an intuitive question-and-answer format, Gibbons and Greene answer more than 100 common questions about these remarkable creatures. Readers who want answers to specific questions or just want to expand their knowledge about these unique and interesting animals will find the information they seek in this essential reference.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Choice

Gibbons and Greene have done a masterful job of assembling questions of great interest to many readers and providing detailed, interesting, and informative answers... Highly recommended.

Amphibia-Reptilia
Easy and enjoyable to read.

— Gunter Gollman

Copeia
Packed full of facts... The book is well written, accurate, and makes for an enjoyable reading experience.

— Kenneth E. Nussear

Quarterly Review of Biology
Any turtle lover should find this reasonably priced volume to be a valuable and useful addition to their book collection.

— Fredric J. Janzen

Reptilia
A valuable publication, giving answers to the most frequent questions about chelonians in a friendly language that will be easily understood by readers of all backgrounds.

— Javier Valverde

Birdbooker Report - Ian Paulsen
A good general introduction to turtle biology and ecology.
British Chelonia Group Newsletter - Christine Tilley
The wide ranging questions are answered in a very readable style, with specific scientific explanations where necessary.
Amphibia-Reptilia - Gunter Gollman
Easy and enjoyable to read.
Copeia - Kenneth E. Nussear
Packed full of facts... The book is well written, accurate, and makes for an enjoyable reading experience.
Quarterly Review of Biology - Fredric J. Janzen
Any turtle lover should find this reasonably priced volume to be a valuable and useful addition to their book collection.
Reptilia - Javier Valverde
A valuable publication, giving answers to the most frequent questions about chelonians in a friendly language that will be easily understood by readers of all backgrounds.
Choice
Gibbons and Greene have done a masterful job of assembling questions of great interest to many readers and providing detailed, interesting, and informative answers... Highly recommended.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Whit Gibbons is a professor emeritus of ecology at the University of Georgia. He writes the weekly environmental column Ecoviews and is the author or editor of eleven books, including Snakes of the Southeast. Judy Greene is the herpetology research coordinator at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory and has coauthored, with Dr. Gibbons, a number of scholarly articles on herpetology and ecology.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction xiii

1 Introducing Turtles 1

What are turties? 1

What is the difference between turtles, terrapins, and tortoises? 2

How many lands of turtles are there? 3

Why are turtles important? 6

Why should people care about turtles? 6

Where do turtles live? 6

What is the current classification of turtles? 7

What characterizes the major groups of turtles? 9

When did turtles first evolve? 9

What is the oldest fossil turtle? 10

What is the largest fossil turtle? 10

2 Form and Function 12

What are the largest and smallest living turtles? 12

What is the metabolism of a turtle? 16

Do turtles have teeth? 17

Do turtles sleep? 18

Can turtles see color? 18

Do all turtles have hard shells? 19

Can a turtle emerge from its shell? 20

Can turtles run? 20

Can all turtles swim? 21

Do all aquatic turtles have flippers? 21

Can turtles breathe under water? 22

Can you tell whether a fossil turtle lived in the sea, in fresh water, or on land? 23

3 Turtle Colors 24

Why do so many turtles have yellow stripes on their neck? 24

What causes the different shell and skin colors of turdes? 25

What color are a turtle's eyes? 26

Is there a reason for the patterns on the shell? 27

Do a curtle's colors change as it grows? 27

Do a turtle's colors change in different seasons? 29

Is there much geographic variation within a single turtle species? 29

4 Turtle Behavior 31

Are turtles social? 31

Do turtles fight? 33

Are snapping turtles the only ones that bite? 34

How smart are turtles? 35

Do turtles play? 36

Do turtles talk? 37

How do turtles avoid predators? 39

5 Turtle Ecology 41

Where do turtles sleep? 41

Doturtles migrate? 42

How many turtle species live in rivers? 43

How many turtle species live in lakes? 44

How many turtle species live in the ocean? 44

Which geographic regions have the most species of turtles? 44

How do turtles survive in the desert? 45

How do turtles survive the winter? 47

How do turtles survive droughts? 48

What is hibernation? 48

Do all turtles bask? 49

Do turtles have enemies? 49

Do turtles get sick? 52

How can you tell if a turtle is sick? 53

Are turtles good for the environment? 53

6 Reproduction and Development 56

How do turtles reproduce? 56

Do all turtles lay eggs? 57

Why do sea turtles lay so many eggs but box turtles lay only a few? 58

How long do female turtles hold eggs in their body? 59

Where do turtles lay their eggs? 61

Does a turtle nest at the same time and in the same place every year? 63

Do turtles nest only one time per year? 64

How many eggs do turtles lay? 65

Are all hatchlings in a turtle nest full siblings? 67

How is the sex of a turtle determined? 67

Do turtles care for their young? 68

How fast do turtles grow? 70

How can you tell the age of a turtle? 71

How long do turtles live? 73

7 Foods and Feeding 76

What do turtles eat? 76

Do turtles chew their food? 77

How do turtles find food? 77

Are any turtles scavengers? 78

How do turtles eat hard-shelled animals? 79

Do turtles store their food? 80

8 Turtles and Humans 81

Do turtles make good pet? 81

How do you take care of a pet turtle? 81

Are turtles dangerous? 83

Do turtles feel pain? 83

What should I do if I find an injured turtle? 84

What should I do if I find a turtle crossing the road? 86

What should I do if I find a turtle laying eggs? 87

What should I do if I find a baby turtle? 87

How can I see turtles in the wild? 87

Should people feed turtles in lakes? 88

9 Turtle Problems (from a human viewpoint) 90

Are turtles pests? 90

Ipo turtles reduce the number of fish in lakes and rivers? 90

Do turtles kill ducks in ponds? 91

Do turtles have diseases and are they contagious? 91

Is it safe to eat turtles? 93

What should I do if I get bitten by a turtle? 97

10 Human Problems (from a turtle's viewpoint) 99

Are any turtles endangered? 99

Will turtles be affected by global warming? 101

Are turtles affected by pollution? 102

Why do people hunt and eat turtles? 104

Are "tortoiseshell" items actually made from turtle shells? 105

Why do so many turtles get hit by cars? 105

Are boats dangerous for aquatic turtles? 106

How are turtles affected by Utter? 106

What can an ordinary citizen do to help turtles? 107

11 Turtles in Stones and Literature 109

What roles do turtles play in religion and mythology? 109

Are turtles depicted at all in the Christian religion? 112

Did any early philosophers/naturalists mention turtles in their writings? 112

What are the roles turtles have played in children's literature? 113

What roles do turtles play in popular culture? 113

What about turtles and math? 115

What roles have turtles played in poetry and famous sayings? 115

12 "Turtleology" 128

Who studies turtles? 128

Which species are best known? 129

Which species are least known? 134

How do scientists tell turtles apart? 134

Appendix A Scientific and Common Names of Living Turtles 137

Appendix B Organizations and Societies for Turtle Conservation 147

Bibliography 151

Index 157

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