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Soon enough i should have this site up and going, mainly answering general knowledge facts about Florida's turtles not specializing in any general type.
group of turtles which lack the ability to pull their heads back into their shells; they retract their heads under their shells by turning them sideways under the margin of their shells.
large scale like structures made up of keratin (like fingernails) that cover the shells of turtles. They do have nerve endings, and the turtle can detect something touching its shell. Turtles can regenerate damaged scutes, and on some turtles they have rings similar to growth rings on trees and can be used to estimate age.
The ventral (bottom) portion of a turtle's shell (under the abdomen/chest). It is made up of bony plates and covered with scutes. In some turtles, the some of the bony plates making up the plastron are hinged.
The dorsal (top) portion of the turtle shell. The carapace is also made up of bony plates, that are fused to the ribcage and backbone of the turtle. The seams of the bony plates do not necessarily coincide with the seams between scutes.
common opening of the digestive, urinary and reproductive tracts.
Here is some information and pictures of Turtles often found in Florida.
though not common in Florida, it has been found from the Central Florida area north.
very small turtles to just over 12 cm. Hard to confuse with other species. Mostly black with some yellow spots on carapace and head and some red coloration on flesh. Found in marshes, bogs and streams. The spotting is highly variable in these animals and there is a tendency of some populations to be more spotted than others.
up to 25 cm. Striped "pants" like a Yellow-bellied Slider, but with broad stripes on front legs.
Barbour's Map Turtle
central panhandle Jackson, Gadsen, Calhoun, Liberty, Gulf, and Franklin Counties.
up to 30 cm for females with males reaching half that length. Distribution is also a key to ID. Light colored blotches behind eyes and on nose. Light colored marking along lower jaw. Saw backed.
Escambia Map Turtle
Escambia River in the western panhandle; Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, and Walton Counties.
up to 30 cm for females with males reaching half that length. Distribution is also a key to ID. Light colored blotches behind eyes and on nose. Light colored marking along lower jaw which is thinner and extending farther along the neck than the Barbour's Map Turtle. Saw backed.
Suwannee River Cooter
Hillsborough County north along the Gulf Coast into the panhandle.
up to 40 Cm. Carapace has a light reticulated pattern with a "C" shaped marking in the 2nd costal scute. Unlike the Florida and Peninsula Cooter, it has markings (which may be faint) on the plastron and unlike the Redbelly its upper jaw is not notched.
northern part of state including panhandle.
up to 38 cm. Light centered ocelli on underside of marginals.
Florida Redbelly Cooter
most of peninsular Florida, not found in most of panhandle.
34 cm. Not all Red-bellied Turtles have red bellies, especially older animals. They can be identified by the cusps on either side of notched upper jaw and the short stripe on top of head between eyes.
northern Gulf Coast through panhandle.
up to 27 cm. Large yellow blotch behind eye and vertical stripes on rump. The rump stripes differentiate it from the Peninsular Cooter. The Chicken Turtle also has the rump stripes, but the Chicken has a single broad stripe on its forelimbs while the Yellowbelly has thin lines.
coastal areas of entire state.
All 7 of the Malaclemys terrapin subspecies are protected in Florida. There is a possession limit of two. You are not allowed to buy, sell, or trade this species (i.e. no commercial activity) in Florida
Florida Box Turtle
up to 16 cm. Strong yellow markings on the head and the generally dark brown to black shell. The carapace generally reaches its high point rear of center. The hind foot usually has three toes.
this is the only tortoise native to Florida. Up to 24cm.
Florida Snapping Turtle
entire state. In the northeastern corner and panhandle it intergrades with the Common Snapping Turtle.
up to 47 cm. Long pointed tubercles on upper portion of neck. Bony knobs on tail which help to differentiate it from the Alligator Snapping Turtle.
Alligator Snapping Turtle
northern Florida into panhandle.
up to 71 cm. Superficially similar to the Common snapper can be distinguished by larger size, hooked beak, keels on the carapace, extra scutes on plastron (where it meets the marginals) and carapace (3+ supramarginals between marginals and costals), and lure in mouth. The tail of the Alligator Snapping Turtle doesn't have the bony knobs that the Common Snapper does.
Florida Softshell Turtle
up to 50 cm. Largest of the US softshells. Has knobs on front of carapace, while the Spiny Softshell has spines and the Smooth Softshell is shockingly smooth.
Gulf Coast Smooth Softshell
found in Escambia County.
up to 28 cm. front edge of carapace lacks the bumps or spines.
NO PICTURES :(
Gulf Coast Spiny Softshell
found in a few counties in the panhandle and north of Florida.
up to 45 cm. Has stripes on legs.
Three-striped Mud Turtle
entire peninsula, missing from much of panhandle.
up to 12 cm. The doubly hinged plastron separates it from the Common and Loggerhead Musk, while the stripes on the carapace differentiate it from the Eastern Mud Turtle
Florida Mud Turtle
up to 13 cm. Pectoral scute is triangular unlike in Musks.
central Florida north into panhandle. From Walton County west to Escambia County it intergrades with the Stripe-neck Musk.
up to 11.5 cm. Lacks the hinged plastron of the local Mud Turtles (Three-stripe Mud and Eastern Mud) and the head stripes of the Common Musk.
Common Musk Turtle
to 13.5 cm. Dark to black carapace. Weak to no hinge in front of plastron. Flesh exposed between plastral scutes. Square pectoral scute.
Loggerhead Sea Turtle
found in the coastal waters around the state. Nesting occurs in many coastal counties.
up to 120 cm. Five or more costal scutes with the first touching the nuchal.
Green Sea Turtle
found in the coastal waters around Florida. Most nesting in Florida occurs from Brevard south.
up to 150 cm. Single pair of prefontal scales on head. Four costal scutes and the first does not touch the nuchal.
Atlantic Hawksbill Sea Turtle
found in the coastal waters around the state, there are only a few records of it nesting in Florida.
up to 90 cm. Two pairs of prefrontal scales on head. Scutes on carapace overlap. Four costal scutes and the first does not touch the nuchal.
Atlantic Ridley Sea Turtle
found in the coastal waters around the state, but there are only a few records of nesting in Florida. Most of the Nesting takes place in Tamaulipas Mexico.
Small for a sea turtle, up to 70 cm. Five costal scutes with the first one touching the nuchal.
Leatherback Sea Turtle
found in the coastal waters around the state. Has been reported to nest on the Atlantic coast of Florida.
up to 240cm. Largest living species of turtle. Unlike the other sea turtles this species lacks scutes.