Floridian Nature

Learn about Florida's beautiful and unique nature.

Florida Nature: Endangered Reptiles (5)
Florida Key Mole Skink (Eumeces egregius egregius) SSC- The Florida key mole skink is only found in the Florida Keys. Reaching 6" in length, it has a brown body, eight yellow stripes, and a black-striped reddish tail. It can sometimes be found under fallen fronds. Skinks tend to have smooth bodies, short legs, and round tails. The Florida key mole skink is usually active during the day. Their diet consists of insects. Mole skinks all burrow underground in loose sand. Some lay their eggs as deep as six feet underground. (picture unavailable)

loggerhead sea turtle - a Florida reptile of special concernLoggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta)  Threatened-  The most common sea turtle in Florida, the loggerhead is named for its massive, block-like head. Loggerheads are among the larger sea turtles; adults weigh an average of 275 pounds and have a shell length of about 3 feet. Its carapace, which is a ruddy brown on top and creamy yellow underneath, is very broad near the front of the turtle and tapers toward the rear. Each of its flippers has two claws. As is true for all sea turtles, the adult male has a long tail, whereas the female's tail is short. The powerful jaws of the loggerhead allow it to easily crush the clams, crabs, and other armored animals it eats. A slow swimmer compared to other sea turtles, the loggerhead occasionally falls prey to sharks, and individuals missing flippers or chunks of their shell are not an uncommon sight. However, the loggerhead compensates for its lack of speed with stamina; for example, a loggerhead that had been tagged at Melbourne Beach was captured off the coast of Cuba 11 days later.

green sea turtle, an endangered reptile in the state of FloridaGreen Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) Endangered- A more streamlined-looking turtle than the bulky loggerhead, the green turtle weighs an average of 350 pounds and has a small head for its body size. Its oval-shaped upper shell averages 3.3 feet in length and is olive-brown with darker streaks running through it; its lower shell, or plastron, is yellow. Green turtles are found during the day in shallow flats and seagrass meadows and return every evening to their usual sleeping quarters—scattered rock ledges, oyster bars, and coral reefs. Adult green turtles are unique among sea turtles in that they are largely vegetarians, consuming primarily seagrasses and algae. Approximately 100 to 1,000 green turtles nest on Florida’s beaches each year from June through late September.

leatherback sea turtle, an endangered reptile in the state of FloridaLeatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) Endangered- Leatherbacks look distinctively different from other sea turtles. Instead of a shell covered with scales or shields, leatherbacks are covered with a firm, leathery skin and have seven ridges running lengthwise down their backs. They are usually black with white, pink, and blue splotches and have no claws on their flippers. Leatherbacks eat soft-bodied animals such as jellyfish. The leatherback is a fascinating and unique animal, even among sea turtles. It is larger, dives deeper, travels farther, and tolerates colder waters than any other sea turtle. Most leatherbacks average 6 feet in length and weigh from 500 to 1,500 pounds, but the largest leatherback on record was nearly 10 feet long and weighed more than 2,000 pounds.

Hawksbill sea turtle, and endangered reptile in the state of FloridaHawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) Endangered- The hawksbill is a small, agile turtle whose beautiful tortoise-colored shell is its greatest liability. The shell is still used in some European and Asian countries to make jewelry, hair decorations and other ornaments, even though international trade in hawksbill products has been banned in much of the world. Hawksbills weigh from 100 to 200 pounds as adults and are approximately 30 inches in shell length. Its carapace is shaded with black and brown markings on a background of amber. The shields of this kaleidoscopic armor overlap, and the rear of the carapace is serrated. Its body is oval-shaped, its head is narrow, and its raptor-like jaws give the hawksbill its name. These jaws are perfectly adapted for collecting its preferred food, sponges. They are frequently spotted by divers off the Florida Keys, and a few nests are documented annually from the Keys to Canaveral National Seashore.

Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle- an endangered turtle in the state of FloridaKemp's Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys kempii) Endangered- The Kemp’s ridley is the rarest sea turtle in the world and is the most endangered. It has only one major nesting beach, an area called Rancho Nuevo on the Gulf coast of Mexico. Fewer than 1,000 nesting females remain in the world. Kemp’s ridleys are small, weighing only 85 to 100 pounds and measuring 2 to 2.5 feet in carapace length, but they are tough and tenacious. Their principal diet is crabs and other crustaceans.
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