Three different sections depicting and describing sea turtles, tortoises, and freshwater turtles.

Types of Turtles


Not all turtles look the same! Their bodies are different, depending on where they spend most of their time. Here are some quick ways to tell the difference between a sea turtle, a tortoise, and a freshwater turtle.


Sea turtles live in oceans.

Legs shaped like long paddles for swimming

Streamlined shell

Flippers instead of feet

Can’t pull neck into shell

Green sea turtle


The turtles known as tortoises live on land, often on rough, dry ground.

Short, heavy, club-like legs for walking

High, domed shell


Stumpy toes and feet

Can pull neck into shell

Galapagos tortoise


Freshwater turtles live in or near rivers, ponds, and lakes.

Long legs compared to tortoise

Flatter, streamlined shell

Webbed feet with claws

Can pull neck into shell