Florida Red Bellied Turtle – (Chrysemys nelsoni)
I spotted this turtle along Daniels Pkwy while I was taking a bicycle ride on a cool day. The female Red Bellied turtle which can grow up to 12 inches in length and weigh 8.8 lbs. is larger than their male counterparts. They often lay their eggs in alligator nests or mud holes in the water which provides a more stable temperature range and protects the eggs from raccoons. The danger to this practice is that alligators sometimes attack adult turtles and it is thought by biologists that their high and thick shell coverings are evolutionary developments to protect them from alligator attacks. There are occasionally signs of tooth marks and scratches on the outer shell of Red Bellies showing signs of alligator attacks. Red Bellied turtles are popular for their export trade because they are eaten by some people and also used as pets. The Florida Museum of Natural History has a good collection of pictures of Florida’s turtles and other reptiles. The turtle is cold blooded since and since it is a reptile and cannot regulate it’s body temperature like other animals, it has to seek warm places in it’s environment to raise it’s body temperature on cold days in order to survive. You can often see one or more turtles sunning themselves along the banks of a river, ponds, or on logs.
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