In Southern Africa tortoises, terrapins and turtles are classified under the Order Chelonia with a further four Family divisions: Testudinidae, Pelomedusidae, Cheloniidae and Dermochelyidae
TORTOISE: These are land dwelling animals that never venture into water as part of their life cycles, however they can all swim when necessary. All tortoises fall into the family Testudinida.
TERRAPIN: Live on land and water. Their eggs are layed on land, but they use water for feeding and protection. Terrapins fall under the family Pelomedusidae.
TURTLE: These animals are 100% sea reliant and only the females venture onto land to lay their eggs. Males never come ashore and after hatching spend their entire lives in water. Turtles fall under two families; Cheloniidae and Dermochelyidae.
All of the above have exceptionally high mortality rates and it is estimated that only about 2% will reach maturity.
Sub-order: Cryptodira (Tortoises), Pleurodira (Terrapins)
Family: Testudinidae (Tortoises), Pelomedusidae (Terrapins), Cheloniidae & Dermochelyidae (Turtles)
Guide at African Insight