Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Is a turtle a reptile or amphibian?

Is a sea turtle a reptile? In short, the answer is yes. But what about a turtle makes it a reptile? Today, our Mechanicsburg vets answer this question.

Is a Turtle a Reptile or an Amphibian?

A turtle is a type of reptile that lives in either saltwater or freshwater. The term "turtle" refers to any reptile of the order of Testudines, including those that dwell on land. Because this order was previously known as Chelonia, all members of this order are referred to as chelonians.

Turtles are reptiles because they have four legs, a cold-blooded metabolism, and scales covering their bodies. Amphibians, on the other hand, have a smooth scaleless water-permeable coating. Turtles are shielded by an impenetrable shell. Their lungs assist them in breathing, as do those of all other reptiles, including crocodiles, snakes, lizards, and the Tuatara.

What is it About a Turtle That Makes it a Reptile?

Refer to the following chart to find out what exactly makes a turtle a reptile and not an amphibian.



This class includes animals that dwell on land (snakes, lizards, tortoises); mostly in water (turtles); and on both land and water (crocodiles and alligators). There is no such thing as an immature (larval) aquatic stage in reptiles. Frogs, toads, newts, salamanders, and caecilians are members of this class; they typically have an aquatic larval stage (e.g., tadpole) followed by a terrestrial adult stage.
Breathe Using the lungs Breathe using gills at the larval stage and with the lungs during adulthood
Have dry, scaly skin Have smooth skin. Adults also use the skin as a secondary breathing organ.
Lay their eggs on land. These eggs have shells Normally lay eggs in water. These eggs are surrounded by a gelatinous covering.

What Animals are Classified as Turtles?

Today, there are three different types of 'turtles:' turtles, tortoises, and terrapins. The main difference between the three is where they live. Turtles spend most of their lives in the water, tortoises on land, and terrapins split evenly between the two.

A turtle must be cold-blooded, have no teeth, four legs, and a bony shell to be classified as one. The shell is the most distinguishing feature of a turtle. Their shells have a top and bottom and connect to the turtle's body on both sides to form a skeleton box.

Turtles live all over the world except for Antarctica. They can vary in size dramatically, from as small as four inches to as large as four feet.

Are Turtles a Good Idea for a Children's Pet?

Turtles make excellent pets for children, but you must consider whether they are the best choice for your family. They are entertaining to watch and require less upkeep than other pets such as dogs or cats. However, contrary to popular belief, turtles can be quite expensive to keep because they require special care to stay alive and well. You'll need to purchase a terrarium (preferably one that can be half filled with water and half empty), preferably one that is large enough to allow the turtle to move around freely. The terrarium will also need to be cleaned daily to remove extra items and turtle droppings.

As for food, you may need to purchase calcium-enriched turtle food to keep its shell strong. Speak to your vet about what kind of food is right for your turtle.

If you have any questions or concerns about your pets, please contact Silver Springs Clinic vets today for more information.

New Patients Welcome

Looking for a vet in Mechanicsburg PA? Silver Springs Animal Clinic is accepting new patients! Our skilled veterinarians are passionate about improving the health of Central Pennsylvania companion animals. Contact us today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

(717) 766-5980 Contact