A tortoise is a turtle that lives only on land. Tortoises have stumpy legs and stubby toes. Most tortoises have a high, dome-shaped shell. They are slow-moving, but they pull their head, feet, and tail inside the shell when attacked.
Many kinds of tortoises live in hot, dry regions. Some live in the tropical rain forests of South America. One of the biggest tortoises is the giant Galapagos tortoise. It is found on the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean. It grows up to 4 feet (1.2 meters) long. The speckled tortoise of Africa is one of the smallest tortoises. It is only about 4 inches (10 centimeters) long.
Tortoises can live a very long time. Some tortoises in zoos have lived more than 100 years. Several kinds of tortoises have become rare. They are threatened by illegal hunting and damage to the environment.