Have you ever been told to come out of your shell? People sometimes use this phrase to refer to kids who are shy. If you’re shy, sometimes you keep to yourself and don’t interact much with others.

Keeping to yourself is kind of like a turtle hiding inside its shell. Turtles feel safe inside their shells. Likewise, you might feel safe from the outside world when you keep your thoughts and feelings to yourself.

However, we believe most turtles would tell you — if they could talk — that you need to come out of your shell every once in a while. When you do, you encounter the world and meet new friends that make life more enjoyable. Let’s take a closer look at the turtle to see what the world is like for them when they peek out of their shells.

Turtles are reptiles that are known for the hard shell on their backs. The shell acts as a shield that helps turtles defend themselves from predators. When threatened, turtles will retreat into their shell for protection.

Turtles have been around for over 200 million years. This makes them one of the oldest reptile groups on Earth. Unfortunately, some species of turtles today are endangered.

Turtles can live on land or in water. Some of the largest turtles in the world are aquatic. For example, the largest turtle — the leatherback sea turtle — lives in water. It can grow to almost 7 feet long and weigh over 2,000 pounds!

The largest turtle in North America is the alligator snapping turtle. It can grow to almost three feet long and weigh as much as 250 pounds. That’s big, but it’s a far cry from the size of the leatherback sea turtle!

Did you know that the parts of a turtle’s shell have different names? The upper shell is called the carapace. The lower shell that covers the belly is called the plastron. The two pieces are joined together by pieces of bone called bridges.

Part of the inner layer of a turtle’s shell consists of bones that are part of the turtle’s backbone and ribs. That means the shell is an integrated part of the turtle’s body. If a turtle wanted to leave its shell, it couldn’t!

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