Baby Turtle: 5 Facts and 5 Pictures

Written by Sadie Dunlap
Published: November 27, 2021
Image Credit iStock.com/Chalabala
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Baby turtles are some of the cutest shelled animals on Earth. But did you know that they have teeth and that they raise themselves? There are so many interesting facts about turtle babies to learn, but here are our top five favorite ones!

#1: Baby Turtles Talk To Each Other Before They Even Hatch

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Turtle hatchlings can communicate with one another before they hatch.

iStock.com/Satria Tegar Wicaksono

I’m sure the first thing you think about when you think of baby turtle hatchlings is not how noisy they are. However, turtle babies have been said to be able to communicate well. They use these skills to work out a plan so that they can all hatch and meet together shortly after. 

About 11 percent of unhatched turtle babies are able to talk to one another through their shells. They do this in order to make their debut in the ocean together, which greatly increases their survival rate. This is incredibly important because there are currently 7 species of sea turtles that are endangered and at risk for extinction.

#2: Hatchlings Lose Their Baby Teeth

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Turtle babies typically incubate for around two to three months.

iStock.com/Shidlovski

Baby turtles go through an incubation period, usually lasting 2 to 3 months, depending on temperature. The cooler the environment, the longer the incubation process takes. When the babies are finally ready to break free from their shell walls, they use what’s called an egg tooth on their beaks to break free. 

Unlike humans, turtle hatchlings lose their egg tooth only one short hour after it was used to help them escape.

#3: Turtle Hatchlings Are Born Orphans

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Baby sea turtles don’t have parents to depend on.

iStock.com/Chalabala

Most animals are born and have at least one parent to teach them how to survive in the wild. When baby sea turtles are born, they have nothing but instincts and their environments to depend on. The odds are stacked against them, and unfortunately, only about 1 in 1,100 hatchlings will live to see their adult years.

After using all the strength in their tiny bodies, the hatchlings rest and regain their energy. This makes it possible to make the long and extremely dangerous trip to the sea. 

#4: Baby Turtles Are Greatly Affected By Temperature 

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The incubation temperature determines the sex of turtle hatchlings.

iStock.com/Riza Azhari

Temperature plays a huge role in a turtle hatchling’s life even before they’re born. While baby turtles are incubating, the temperature around them is what determines their sex. Baby turtles go through an incubation period, usually lasting 2 to 3 months, depending on temperature.

The warmer the eggs are kept, the more likely the babies are to be female. If the eggs were laid in an environment that may see both cool and warm temperatures, the hatchlings have an even chance of being male or female.

#5: Turtle Hatchlings Are Some Of The Oldest Babies In The World

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Turtles as a species are over 230 million years old.

iStock.com/Pablo Solís Fernández

Did you know that turtles as a species are over 230 million years old? This means they were roaming around with the dinosaurs

The ancestors of the turtles we see today didn’t have just one tooth they would use to break free of their shells. They were born with a mouth full of teeth. While hatchlings used to be born with teeth, they weren’t always born with shells for protection. Thankfully, turtle hatchlings have a shell to keep them safe from predators.

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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How much do baby turtles weigh?

Did you know that some adult sea turtles weigh up to 2000 pounds? Those same turtles, the leatherbacks, weigh only ounces when they first hatch from their eggs and make their way to the ocean. They’re about 1 to 2 inches around when they hatch and become fully mature adults at 10 to 15 years old.

What do baby turtles eat?

Most baby turtles have a diet that consists of a few different things based on what kind of turtle they are. The most common type of turtle, the omnivore, eats both vegetation and meat from insects and even fish. 

Where do baby turtles live?

Baby turtles that live in the sea have proved very difficult to keep track of after hatching and making their way into the water. There isn’t much data about where they spend their time, and typically they would be tagged and tracked, but they are too small to tag and too expensive to track extensively. Baby turtles that live on land find themselves searching for a home that has calm water, so they’re able to go for a swim and rocks and sticks that they can sunbathe on.

What are baby turtles called?

Baby turtles are called hatchlings, and no surprise they get their names from their entrance into this world. Adult turtles are called tortoises or just turtles, with the difference being that tortoises prefer to spend their time on land and sunbathing, whereas turtles and sea turtles love living their lives in the water. If you got a group of turtles together, you would call that a creep, although turtles are not known for their social skills and prefer to be alone.

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