What Is A Baby Turtle Called? (Terms For Turtles In Different Stages)

We know that a baby cat is a kitten and a baby dog is a puppy. But have you ever wondered what is a baby turtle called? A hatchling!

It doesn’t matter whether the baby is a sea turtle, land turtle, male, or female. All baby turtles are called hatchlings, regardless of their type, species, and gender. However, there is more to baby turtles than just that.

In today’s article, let’s explore these cute reptiles and learn more about what they are called at different stages of life. Dive in!

What Is a Bunch of Baby Turtles Called?

A baby turtle is called a hatchling, and although you can call a bunch of baby turtles hatchlings, it is incorrect. The right term for a group of baby turtles is a nest.

This is because baby turtles only stay together until they have successfully entered the ocean waters. Once deep in the water, these babies will survive and grow up on their own. But this doesn’t mean that turtles spend all of their lives alone.

They come together in certain circumstances, like mating and courtship. So, if you see a bunch of big turtles, they will be called bale or dole. Most people prefer to call them the bale instead of the dole, but the choice is yours!

What Is a Juvenile Turtle?

What Is a Juvenile Turtle
Image Credit: donnyandraph

A juvenile turtle is not a hatchling or baby. It is somewhere between young and adulthood. You can also think of it as a teenager in human terms.

When the nest enters the seawater, all hatchlings split up and travel deep on their own. This period of their lives is known as Lost Years. It’s because nobody really knows where they go to feed and grow up.

Typically, the hatchlings will go to a certain protection place. For example, baby sea turtles from North Carolina travel to the Sargasso Sea. They stay in the protection of seaweed for up to 10 years.

Once they are each the size of a dinner plate (8 to 12 inches), the turtles become juvenile. It will leave the protection place and travel back to the coastal waters. Here, it will live until it grows strong and reaches sexual maturity.

It usually takes between 10 to 50 years for a turtle to become sexually mature. It is then called an adult.

How are Baby Turtles Born?

Contrary to the famous belief, female turtles don’t give birth. They lay a group of eggs just like any other reptile. The group of turtle eggs is called a clutch.

Adult turtles come together annually or bi-annually to mate. It depends on the sea turtle species and types. Once they’ve mated, the pregnant female turtle is called a gravid.

Gravids will be ready to lay eggs after 6 to 8 weeks of mating. During the last few weeks, the female sea turtle will spend time on land in search of a suitable place to lay the clutches. Most turtles will build a nest on warm beaches with moist or sandy soil.

When ready to lay eggs, the turtle will dig the nest using her hind legs. She will lay eggs in the deep chamber and cover them with the soil. Here, the job of turtles as a parent is done. They will head back into the water to continue their life cycle.

For 6 to 7 weeks, the warm soil incubates the turtle eggs. The baby turtles will hatch after this time period and absorb the small yolk sac in their egg shells. This will give them the nutrition needed to dig out of the soil and make their way to the water.

How Many Baby Turtles Make It to the Ocean?

Turtle hatchlings face a lot of dangers while making it to the ocean. Firstly, the hot beach temperatures dehydrate baby turtles. Since they only have the energy absorbed from the yolk, many hatchlings can die because of dehydration.

It’s why most baby hatchlings will come out in the evening or night. The cooler temperatures ensure their well-being as they make it to the ocean. However, the real threat to hatching comes from natural predators.

Crabs, birds, raccoons, and foxes are just a few land predators who feed on these baby turtles. Even if the nighttime allows hatchlings to escape them, the predators in the sea are ready to attack. Babies do a sprint (fast swimming) to avoid them, but it is still estimated that only some make it to adulthood (1 in 1000).

Recently, hatchlings are also facing danger from human activities. The vast amount of garbage and litter injures the babies as they crawl into the sea waves. Sometimes, they mistake plastic bags for food and choke themselves to death.

Some people also monitor the turtle nests and capture the hatchlings in fishing nets as soon as they come out. Although this illegal act is condemned in most countries, poachers still manage to steal babies and sell them to unlawful wildlife trade.

The Right Baby Turtle Terms

The Right Baby Turtle Terms
Image Credit: latortugacitadina

Now that we know all about baby turtles, let’s have a look at the right terms in the chart below!

Turtle Term Meaning
Clutch Group of turtle eggs
Hatchling Baby turtle
Juvenile A young turtle that hasn’t reached sexual maturity yet.
Adult A sexually mature turtle
Nest Egg chamber or group of hatchlings
Bale or Dole Group of adult turtles
Gravid Pregnant female turtle

Last Words

All in all, a baby turtle is called a hatchling. If you see a bunch of baby turtles, you will call them hatchlings or a nest. These babies are about 1 to 2 inches, but they travel very fast from the egg chamber to the sea waters.

If you ever come across a nest migrating to the ocean, never intervene in the process or disturb them in any way. These baby reptiles are sensitive and delicate, with little energy available to complete the journey.

Perhaps, you can play with the pet turtle in your garden or at the pet store. But it’s best to let the wild turtles do their thing on their own. Happy turtle watching!

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