Floridian Nature

Learn about Florida's beautiful and unique nature.

Florida Sliders Cooters & Soft Shelled Turtles
red eared turtleRed-Eared Turtle- The colorful Red-Eared turtle was originally found from Mississippi westward, but it is now breeding abundantly in the Miami-Dade area and several other localities in Florida. it can be recognized by the bright red patches on each side of its head, hence the name Red-eared. The Red-eared has traditionally been the most popular turtle sold as a pet. When owners tire of them, they often release them into lakes and rivers, which may account for the expanding range for this turtle. The red-eared turtle reaches a length of 11-12 inches.

florida softshell turtleFlorida Soft-Shell Turtle- The Florida soft-shelled turtle is a bizarre looking turtle with an exceptionally long neck. Florida softshell turtles are found in marshes, lakes, ponds, and slow-moving rivers with sandy or muddy bottoms throughout the state. Its shell is brightly colored in juveniles but becomes dark and drab as the turtle ages. The Florida soft shelled turtle reaches a maximum length of 20 inches. Unlike the hard shelled turtles, this turtle does not periodically shed thin outer layers of it's shell. The shell is soft, leathery, and pliable.  Soft shelled turtles have soft lips which cover very strong jaws. This tutle burrows into the bottom sand waiting for prey, such as frogs, fish, and crustaceans. This turtle is a powerful swimmer and can also run on land with speed and agility. In the water the Florida softshell turtle is known to pursue and catch fish.

florida suwannee cooterSuwannee Cooter -The Suwannee Cooter is  found in drainage areas of rivers that feed into the Gulf of Mexico from Hillsborough to Gulf County in Florida. The Suwannee Cooter adapts readily to changes in water salinity. The cooters shell has yellow markings that appear to be spirals at a short distance. The Suwannee Cooter also has yellow stripes on its head and front feet. This turtle reaches a maximum length of 16 inches. Often basking above the water on logs or snags, the Suwannee Cooter has traditionally been collected for food, which has greatly reduced its numbers. The Suwannee Cooter leaves its water habitat only to nest during the summer.

florida peninsula cooterPeninsula Cooter- The Peninsula Cooter is found in lakes and slow-moving streams throughout the state of Florida. It is one of the most commonly seen turtles, often basking on banks and logs, or wandering across roads as it moves from one body of water to another. The Peninsula Cooter will quickly drop into the water when approached. The Peninsula Cooter's shell is usually uniformly dark with a pattern of parallel yellow lines radiating to the sides. This turtle has yellow markings, some shaped like a hairpin, on its head and neck, and grows to a length of 15 inches.  One of the most fascinating courtships rituals of cooters is the male's habit of swimming backward in front of the female while stroking or tapping her face with the long nails on his front feet!

spiny softshell turtleSpiny Softshell Turtle- The Spiny Softshell Turtle gets its name from the small spines on the edge of its shell, directly behind its neck. This turtle is is found west of the Appalachicola and St. Mary's Rivers in Florida. Softshell turtles are also called pancake turtles because of their flat round shape. Their shells are soft enough to be a bit flexible at the edges and are covered with a leathery skin. Sometimes the shell is so soft that the shape of the underlying bone structure is partially visible. Softshell turtles are highly aquatic, swift in the water, and although they do bask on the shore, they usually stay close enough to the water to make a fast underwater escape if danger threatens.

yellow bellied turtleYellow Bellied Slider Turtle- The yellow bellied slider is a very attractive turtle that was originally native to North Florida, but is now often found in the southern part of the peninsula, where its numbers seem to be increasing. It's rough carapace, or upper shell is marked with prominent yellow bars on each side, and has a yellow patch behind each eye. This sliders belly is usually bright yellow and always has black blotches on the first pair of scales. The slider grows to a size of about 11 inches.
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