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Pets Theme Unit
Life with a Turtle



Life with a Turtle
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.36

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    semi, sunbathe, humidity, versatile, diets, buffet, cauliflower, plant-eating, commitment, affected, command, dude, environment, captivity, fire-engine, illegal
     content words:    Finding Nemo, Leathery Turtle, One Indian Ocean Giant Tortoise, Pancake Tortoise, East Africa, Semi Aquatic, Red Eared Slider, King Yertle, Eared Slider


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Life with a Turtle
By Colleen Messina
  

1     A long time ago, a man named Aesop wrote a famous fable about a race between a turtle and a rabbit. The slow and steady turtle won the race, and Aesop's clever story reminded people to never give up. More recently, movie characters like the turtle dudes in Finding Nemo, have made turtles popular. But are real turtles all that special? People who keep turtles as pets think so!
 
2     Turtles have been on Earth for millions of years. These versatile reptiles live on every continent except Antarctica and come in all sizes and shapes. A tiny Bog turtle is only 4 inches long and weighs just ounces, but a Leathery Turtle can weigh up to 1,500 pounds. Some turtles can live for more than 100 years, so having a turtle can be a long commitment. One Indian Ocean Giant Tortoise was captured when he was about 50 years old. He then lived for another 152 years in captivity.
 
3     Maybe one reason that turtles have lasted so long is because of their strong shell. A turtle shell has 60 different bones all connected together. The top part of a turtle shell that looks like a dome is called the carapaces. One turtle that does not have a domed shell is the Pancake Tortoise of East Africa. For defense, this turtle wedges himself between narrow stones if a predator is chasing him. Then, he inflates himself so the predator can't grab him. Fortunately, the Pancake turtle doesn't use maple syrup to slide out of his hiding place.
 
4     Enjoying turtle dudes in a movie is quite different from having a turtle as a pet. Turtles have some special needs. They need clean water and fresh bedding every day. Turtles are cold-blooded, which means that their body temperature is affected by their environment. If their house is cold, the turtle gets cold. If their house is hot, the turtle gets hot. Turtles like to live in a temperature between 71 and 86 degrees. They also like the right amount of moisture in the air, which is called the humidity.

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