“Slow and steady wins the race!”  That old children’s tale about the Tortoise and the Hare pretty much sums up a turtle or tortoise’s plight through life.  Aside from grabbing food (a feat they accomplish very quickly) everything chelonians (turtles and tortoises) do seems to happen in slow motion, from walking, to breeding and settling territorial rivalries.  So many creatures on this planet survive by relying on camouflage, speed, or pure brutality, but not the turtle!  When most turtles or tortoises encounter danger, they simply retreat into the ever-present tank-like shell.  Unlike hermit crabs, chelonians are only afforded one shell to last a lifetime.  This shell grows with them and serves as an indicator for age.  If the shell is injured, it also inflicts great pain upon them.  It may protect them from most predators, but this cumbersome monstrosity offers little escape from drought, fire, flood, and humans.  As a desperation measure, they will sometimes void all the liquid in their rotund bodies to seem less appetizing for a prospective predator.  This can translate to a prompt dehydration death, so even briefly handling a wild turtle / tortoise can not only put you at risk for salmonella poisoning, but it can be a death sentence for the chelonian in question.   These fascinating, lackadaisical creatures have been around, relatively unchanged for hundreds of millions of years.  Like so many other incredible inhabitants on this planet, however, they have suffered extensively from home “developments” and pet trade collection.  Appreciate, photograph, observe, but please only handle to help a chelonian across the road!