Florida Softshell Turtle

The Florida softshell turtle (Apalone ferox) is found all over the Florida peninsula, as well as into neighboring states. It lives in both freshwater and brackish environments, preferring slow-moving or still water.

Instead of the hard, scuted shell of other turtles, the softshell has a cartilaginous carapace covered in tough skin. Color ranges from olive green to dark brown, with a light-colored underside. Size ranges from 6-30 inches in length; females can be three to five times larger than the males.

They hunt by burying themselves in the sandy/muddy bottoms of lakes and ponds and waiting for food to wander by. It eats meat, especially fish, frogs, crustaceans and molluscs.

Female softshell turtles sometimes use vacant alligator nests to lay their eggs in! Eggs are laid in late spring to early summer, and hatch in 60-90 days. Females can lay multiple clutches per season, with an average of 20 eggs, laid every three weeks or so.

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