Turtles may crawl out of their shells in cartoons, but not in real life. A turtle’s backbone is built into the top of its shell. When threatened, a turtle often pulls in its head, tail and legs for protection. In some species, the bottom part of the shell is hinged, forming an extremely tight closure.
This adaptation helps many turtles to live 50 years or more in the wild.
WILD Facts is a regular feature written by Linda May, a wildlife interpretive specialist with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division.