|Florida Turtles: Freshwater Turtles|
Snapping Turtle- The Florida Snapping Turtle is found in ponds
and lakes with muddy bottoms and lots of vegetation throughout the
peninsula. The Florida Snapping Turtle can be recognized by the three
saw-toothed ridges running lengthwise down the top of its tail. It
reaches a maximum size of 18" and 35 pounds. It is an aggressive
predator, eating a wide variety of wildlife. Underwater, snappers are
generally inoffensive, but on land they will try repeatedly to bite if
approached. Their necks are quite long and they can snap and bite like
lightning. Even small snappers can inflict a painful wound with its
Alligator Snapping Turtle- The Alligator Snapping Turtle is one of the oldest freshwater turtles in the world. This turtle can be distinguished by its very large head and the three prominent knobby ridges along its back. Found in rivers and streams in the panhandle. It is one of the largest freshwater turtles in the world, reaching a maximum size of 28" and weighing over 200 pounds. A large alligator turtle can easily severe a man's finger off in just a quick bite! The alligator turtle has a unique way of feeding. During the daytime, when there is sufficient light underwater, the turtle will open its mouth and wiggle a reddish worm like growth on its tongue as a lure to attract small fish. When a fish comes close to investigate, the Alligator Snapping turtle will suddenly snap it up in its powerful jaws. At night alligator turtles feed by foraging on vegetation, snails, mussels and bits of animal flesh they may find. They even eat small turtles. Snappers are rather primitive turtles and have retained a long armored tail.
Stinkpot Turtle -The Stinkpot Turtle is so named because of two glands on each side of the body that emit a musky smelling secretion when the animal is captured or disturbed. The stinkpot is generally dark brown to black with fine yellow stripes along the head and neck. It is very aquatic and not seen wandering on land very often, although it will often be seen climbing on branches of trees that overhang water. on its underside, the Stinkpot Turtle seems to be more flesh than shell. The small bottom shell, or plastron is joined to the carapace (top shell) by a narrow bridge. In the wild this turtle feeds on fish, crayfish, insects and carrion.
Loggerhead Musk Turtle- The preferred habitat of the beautiful little musk turtle is clear, freshwater springs and spring runs. Large colonies can be found in some of the big clear springs of North Florida. The Loggerhead Musk Turtle has a habit of basking high above the water on cypress knees or protruding snags. Front the front, its shell seems almost triangular, except in older individuals, and its generally tan to brown. The musk turtles large head is grayish with black spots. For a small turtle, it can give a nasty bite! baby Loggerhead Musk Turtles do no have large heads like the adult. The loggerhead is developed as a result of years of crushing snails.
Striped Mud Turtle- The small Striped Mud Turtle can be recognized by the three light stripes that run lengthwise down the top of it's shell. This turtle's head is also striped. Striped mud turtles live near small shallow bodies of water and are frequently seen crossing roads to forage in wet meadows, particularly after rainstorms. The Striped Mud Turtle eats a wide variety of food, and is sometimes seen feeding on manure, which accounts for it being referred to as the "Cow Dung Cooter". This turtles existence in the Florida Keys is precarious due to land development. The striped turtle has a hinged plastron, or bottom shell, but unlike the box turtle, mud turtles have two hinges, including one at the rear, allowing the shell to be closed more tightly.
Florida Mud Turtle- The Florida mud turtle is a small brownish colored turtle, with faint markings on the head and no color patterns on any part of the shell. The bridge connecting the carapace to the plastron is narrow, and there are two hinges on the plastron, allowing the ends of the plastron to move and partially close the shell. The Florida mud turtle, found through out the state, rarely moves away from its freshwater habitat of small creeks, drainage ditches and marshes. Growing only to five inches in length, the Florida Mud Turtle is a petite turtle foraging off vegetation, snails, and mussels. Like all living turtles, the Florida Mud Turtle has no teeth, but uses its hard parrot like beak for cutting and crushing its food.
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