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Florida Softshell

Apalone ferox

Description:

The Florida Softshell Turtle is one of the largest freshwater turtles in North America, and the largest of the Apalone genus. It has a dark brown to olive green, leathery carapace. The underside (plastron) is white or cream. They have a long neck, an elongated head, with a long nose. Juvenile turtles are olive or yellowish with grey spots and a yellow lined carapace, and a gray plastron. The juveniles also yellow and orange markings on the head. The markings fade as the turtle ages. Florida Softshell Turtles may bite when threatened. They are fast moving on land and in the water.

Habitat:

Found in ponds, streams, rivers, lakes and swamps. They prefer still water. Florida Softshell Turtles are mainly aquatic and only come onto land to bask or to lay eggs.

Notes:

I have to admit, I have never seen a softshell on land. Not sure, but I think this one may have been nesting, as it was spotted along one of the birding trails a good distance from the water. Normally if they are just sun basking, they are close to the water's edge. http://www.wildlifenorthamerica.com/wild... After taking a few photos, we walked past leaving it be. On our return trip it was no longer there, so we assumed it returned to the water.

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9 Comments

JackEng
JackEng 7 years ago

Turtle Wax... good one! LOL

MaryEvans2
MaryEvans2 7 years ago

That is an interesting observation, which I didn't notice. Must have opened a new can of "turtle wax" ;)

JackEng
JackEng 7 years ago

All in all, you had an interesting encounter that turned into a good spotting - with no blood shed. No sense pushing the envelope.
I was also impressed by how "showroom clean" the turtles' shells were in your and my spottings...

MaryEvans2
MaryEvans2 7 years ago

I think I would cringe just a bit if one swam too close, as I know they have a nasty bite! but would love to get underwater photos of them.

JackEng
JackEng 7 years ago

Mary,
Thank you!
The Softshell I observed had only one thing on its mind - a nest site. After making a bunch of shots - and answering a bunch of onlooker questions on the turtle's behalf, I too walked away without intervening in Nature's course...
I find that in the water, they're curious animals and swim towards us when we make exaggerated underhand throwing motions... of course those guys may be conditioned to people feeding them.

MaryEvans2
MaryEvans2 7 years ago

Too cool Jack - wish I could have captured this one building a nest. Love how yours stuck its neck out for you. This one appeared to be on the shy side ;)

JackEng
JackEng 7 years ago

Mary,
I had exactly the same "Softshell on land - far from water" experience last week: http://www.projectnoah.org/spottings/103...

MaryEvans2
MaryEvans2 7 years ago

Thank you harsuame :)

harsuame
harsuame 7 years ago

Bellas series

MaryEvans2
Spotted by
MaryEvans2

Tallahassee, Florida, USA

Lat: 30.44, Long: -84.28

Spotted on Apr 15, 2012
Submitted on Apr 16, 2012

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