Florida Turtles

Turtles at Six Mile Slough Preserve

Turtles at Six Mile Slough Preserve


The turtles that are sitting on top of the log in this picture are difficult to identify but I have narrowed down my guesses to the River Cooter, Florida Softshell Turtle or the Florida Box Turtle.  Click on the image for a larger picture. These are all freshwater turtles and can be found in ponds, swamps, rivers and other bodies of fresh and brackish water. I took this picture in the Six Mile Swamp Preserve in Ft. Myers.  The photo has a mirror image because of the reflection from the sun’s light off the pond. I discovered some interesting things about turtles when I started trying to identify these guys. Turtles are reptiles and have been around for almost 250 million years. Turtles can breathe by taking in oxygen through their mouths or by exchanging gas through the membranes lining their throats.  Turtles are cold-blooded as are all reptiles and their body temperature is determined by their environment. Since they can’t self regulate their internal temperature like warm-blooded animals they move from warm to cooler environments and back again when needed. The Softshell turtle is a carnivorous creature unlike other turtles and eats mice, fish and other organisms.  Turtles lay their eggs on land and bury them and when the babies hatch they return to the water. Softshell turtles can live up to 30 years in captivity. To learn more about Softshell turtles and see a better picture go to The Smithsonian National Zoological Park website. There are good pictures of a variety of turtles at the Florida Museum of Natural History, Univ, Fla. Website. It is against the law to poach for turtles and three turtle species are on the imperiled list, the Alligator Snapping turtle, Barbour’s Map turtle and the Suwanee cooter. Information about the laws protecting turtles and which are most endangered can be found on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website. Be careful about picking up some types of turtles because they can bite. Learn how to pick them up by their outer shell and not near their head.

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