The Florida Softshell is a large turtle with a long, tubular snout and a smooth, flat, leathery carapace.
The carapace has some solid bone underlying its center but is soft and pliable toward the edges. This helps make the turtle a very fast swimmer. Females are larger than males – with a 24-inch carapace compared to 14 inches for an adult male. The turtles are prized for their meat, and this has led to a decline in their numbers in Florida.
Florida Softshell Turtle
The Florida softshell turtle, or Apalone ferox, is a reptile in the Order Testudines, and is related to the red-bellied turtle.
The Florida Softshell turtle is found primarily in Florida; however, its range extends into southern South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. It is an aquatic turtle that lives in bodies of fresh water.
The Florida softshell turtle is omnivorous. It eats fish, crustaceans, even birds, but it also eats aquatic plants.
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In the spring or early summer, the mother turtle emerges from the water, digs a hole in the sand with her hind legs and lays her spherical eggs. Sometimes eggs are preyed on by birds, skunks and raccoons. The young that survive scramble for the water as soon as they hatch. They are rapid swimmers like their parents and often dive into the sandy bottom to conceal themselves when danger approaches.