Turtle Tales – Celebrating turtles with stories from across the world

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About

Storytellers: Shamli, Ashish, Annora, Yamini
Original artwork: Rohit Rao
Produced by: Young Editors
Language: English
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Celebrating Turtles 

May 23rd is World Turtle Day and this feature celebrates turtles. We dug into world mythology and folktales to unearth stories about turtles from across the globe and across human history. These stories come from North America, Africa, India and Japan.

A big shout out to all those people who are rescuing, rehabilitating and working in turtle conservation. Hope you enjoy these stories as much as we enjoyed reading them out.

Story 1 – The Singing Turtle
(Storyteller: Young Editor, Ashish)

First, we travel to the land of the rising sun. This story comes from Japan. Read the full text of this story here – SingingTurtle.pdf

Story 2 – The Talkative Turtle
(Storyteller: Young Editor, Annora)

We head west and reach India. This famous story is a part of the Panchatantra collection of stories. Read the full story here – The Talkative Turtle

Story 3 – Anansi and the Turtle
(Storyteller: Young Editor, Yamini)

We head further west and reach the cradle of humanity – the African continent. This famous story comes from Ghana. Read the full story here – Anansi and the Turtle

Did you know that Anansi is a very famous character in African folklore and creation myths? Here is more on Anansi – Anansi bring stories to the world

Story 4 – Why the Earth Shakes
(Storyteller: Young Editor, Shamali)

Our final destination is across Europe and across the Atlantic ocean to the state of California. This is a story the Gabrielino Indians used to tell. These Indians once lived in San Gabriel Valley in Southern California where earthquakes are common. They told this story to explain the cause of earthquakes and how California was made.

Read the full story here – Tremor Tales: Why the Earth Shakes

Want to read more stories with turtles in them? Check these great links:

If you know more turtle stories from across the globe, please share your links in the comments area and we will include them here.

About Turtles

Turtles are a family of reptiles that appeared about 200 million years ago. They live on land, in freshwater, and in saltwater.

Turtles are a family of reptiles that appeared about 200 million years ago. They live on land, in freshwater, and in saltwater. But all turtles come on land to lay eggs. The ones that spend most of their life on land are called tortoises. The ones that prefer to be in water are known as terrapins.

The one unique thing about turtles is the shell they carry on their back. Actually, they don’t carry it, it is their back. The shell is made up of two layers, the inner bony layer and the outer horny layer. The outer horny layer is made of smaller plates, called ‘scutes’. Their ribs, and some of their vertebra, are fused to the inner bony layer. Because of which, they cannot bend their backs. Their chest is also made of this bony layer. So they cannot use it to pump air in and out of their body. Instead for this activity, they use their legs pulling them in and out, lets them breathe.

They are mainly vegetarian, though they may eat small creatures. But, they do not have teeth; they have a beak like thing at the tip of their mouth. It is not separate; it is just an extension of their mouth. Much like birds, the beak has a top part, and a bottom part. The two parts are bent towards each other, like a parrot’s beak. They use their beak to pierce their food, and break it into smaller pieces easier to gulp.

Though turtles can live up to 150 years, most turtles live just about 80-100 years. Finding turtles’ age is a difficult task because turtles migrate, which makes it is hard to track them, so the numbers are approximate.

Turtles migrate long distances, for laying eggs, and for food. The mother digs a pit with her hind legs, and lays eggs in the pit. Then she covers the eggs with sand, and leaves them. A mother lays from 5-10 to 80-120 eggs in one pit. After hatching, the babies must find their way to the sea in their own. They locate the sea by the slope of the beach, the scent of the water, and the way the light reflects of the sea. And that is how their journey begins.

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