Turtles are one of our favorite animals. Perhaps it’s their slow, methodical and awkward land movements that make them approachable. Or maybe it’s the way they swim gracefully through the water. It could be their unique shells and wrinkled, scaly skin. It’s always fun for us to spot a new species of turtle that we haven’t seen in the wild before. There are 18 species of turtles here in Missouri, and we have spotted several so far this spring. But there are even more to discover worldwide, and while we may not be able to see them in person, we still enjoy learning about them and comparing them to the turtles we see here at home.
The order Testudines encompasses both turtles and tortoises. There are over 300 species in this order, and they can be found on every continent, except Antarctica. It’s believed the largest number of species are concentrated in the southeastern part of North America and southern part of Asia. But many areas of the world have turtle and tortoise species living in them. They are widely distributed around the globe.