Happy Turtle Tuesday, everyone. Today we’re focusing on some of our favorite Nature Museum residents, our turtles! Although turtles come in a variety of shapes and sizes, they all have shells. Read on for some fun facts, activities, and videos about these turtle-y awesome animals!
What are turtle shells made of?
It’s hard to believe, but turtle shells are actually made of the same material as our fingernails — a protein called keratin. Even though cartoons make it seem like turtles can come out of their shells, they actually can’t. Their shells are connected to their spines. Click here for a short video on turtle shells.
Guiding Question: Is a shell like a turtles house or is it more like a part of their body? How do shells protect turtles? Do you think different turtle species have different types of shells?
Shells help turtles camouflage!
In addition to acting like a shield against predators, shells can also help turtles blend into their surroundings. Eastern box turtles have shells that blend into foliage. Spiny softshell turtles have flat, light brown shells that disappear into sand. How effective is it? Check out this video of Pancake the softshell burying himself in the sand!
Guiding Question: Think of some of the turtles you’ve met at the Nature Museum? What do their shells look like? How do you think they help them in the wild? What other turtles can you think of?
Hunting with Patsy!
When you walk by her tank, it might be hard to spot Patsy, our alligator snapping turtle. Her shell helps her blend in with the rocks in her tank. It also helps her fool fish! Check out this video of Patsy catching some dinner!
Guiding Question: How do you think Patsy’s shell helps her in the wild? Does it help protect her? What does her shell remind you of?
Printable turtle coloring sheets
Missing your favorite Nature Museum turtles? Download and print our turtle coloring sheets! Check out our coloring sheets for Harrison the box turtle, Patsy the alligator snapping turtle, August the spotted turtle, and Bob the Blanding’s turtle!
Guiding Question: What colors should we use for these coloring sheets? Do you remember what colors the Nature Museum turtles are? Do you think those colors help the turtles?
Behind the scenes!
Our animals don’t go to school, but they spend part of their day learning and getting enrichment, too! Fiona, our northern red-bellied cooter, is learning how to follow commands through a special training. Check out our behind-the-scenes video to see her in action!