Mob Menagerie: Turtle
Slow and steady wins the race!
On Minecraft’s sandy shores, there are plenty of exciting things to uncover. Shipwrecks! Buried treasure! Er... sugarcane? But there’s one other delight that causes my heart to grow whenever I see them flapping their little flippers around. A hero in a half-shell: the turtle! Rejoice, friends, it’s our mob of the month!
Turtles, or sea turtles as they’re known in Bedrock edition, are passive aquatic animals found on Minecraft’s coastlines. They’ve been hanging out there, in the sun, since they were added as part of the Update Aquatic in 2017.
Turtles need sand to lay their eggs in, which means that you won’t find them on stony or snowy shores. But you will find them in any other beach biome in the Overworld that has access to daylight – usually around the water’s edge. Unusually for Minecraft mobs, turtles are fairly happy on both land and in the water. They’re a little slower on land, but they swim fast!
Here’s a fun fact: turtles are one of the few Minecraft animals that can’t be leashed. It’s because they’re kinda grumpy and don’t like to do what other creatures want them to do. But they do like eating, and their favorite food is seagrass, so you can definitely lure them around by waving some seagrass in their vicinity. Foolish turtles!
Speaking of seagrass, feeding seagrass to two turtles causes them to enter love mode. But turtles are reptiles and don’t give birth to live young. Instead, they lay eggs – and they’ll only do that on the beach where they hatched. Eggs take about four to five in-game days to hatch into baby turtles, which then take another in-game day to grow into adults.
During that time, the babies are very vulnerable. Drowned, stray cats, and foxes all love the taste of baby turtles and will hunt them. So keep those babies safe. When they do become adults, they’ll shed the parts of their baby shells as scutes and grow a new shell. If you want a turtle shell of your own, you’ll need to painstakingly reassemble one out of scutes.
On the beaches of the real world, turtles are a much less common sight than they are in Minecraft, though that wasn’t always true. Turtles are pretty ancient creatures, having thrived since the Permian and Triassic eras. But when humans came along, we pretty quickly realized how tasty turtles are, and today they’re the second-most threatened group of species after primates. Of the 360 kinds of turtle that have existed since 1500 AD, more than half are threatened or extinct.
Nonetheless, turtles occupy an important role in human culture. In Hindu mythology, the world is carried on top of four enormous elephants that in turn stand on the back of the World Turtle, named Kurma or Kacchapa. World turtles are also found in Native American cultures. They appear in Greek myths, Roman military tactics, Chinese fortune-telling, and Australian Aboriginal art. They’re also popular in comic books and animation. I'm sure you're familiar with Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Raphael, and Donatello!
But the coolest thing about turtles is their lifespan. The oldest living land animal is a Seychelles giant tortoise named Jonathan, living on the island of Saint Helena, who is believed to have been hatched in 1832. That makes him 190 years old, at the time this article was written. While he’s blind and has lost his sense of smell, he’s otherwise pretty healthy and has excellent hearing. No one knows how many more years he’ll live, but if you ask me, he’ll outlive all of us! Keep it up, Jonathan!
- Written By
- Duncan Geere
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