Florida, the hottest state in the US, is famous for several things, including theme parks, beaches, and biodiversity. Other than the home of the most popular theme park “The Disney Land”, Florida is the home of more than 500 species of birds, alligators, crocodiles, and of course, sea turtles. Having one of the biggest coastlines, allows it to become home to more than 32 types of sea turtles across the world. These turtles are found in every corner of Florida. Today, I will be discussing only the top 11 different types of turtles you can find on your next trip to Florida.
Top 11 Types of Turtles You Can Find in Florida.
Here are the top 11 types of turtles you expect to find if you are planning to visit Florida:
1: Leatherback Sea Turtle
Exclusive to Florida’s sea cost, commonly known as the lute turtle is one of the largest turtles out there.
Scientific Name: Dermochelys coriacea.
Size and Weight: 6 to 7 feet/ 200 to 700 kg.
Color/Shape of Body: Prominently black with a hint of white spots and blue or pink neck| Have a teardrop-shaped body.
Life Span: Average 20 years, which can be expected to go up to 40 or even 50 sometimes.
Diet: Jellyfish, crabs, conch, and some other invertebrates(as carnivorous).
Predators: Sharks, crabs, and some mammals.
Distinctive Characteristic: Does not have a hard shell like most sea turtles, but leathery skin.
2: Alligator Snapping Turtle
With enormous biting force, alligator snapping turtles are a vulnerable species of turtles.
Scientific Name: Macrochelys Temminckii.
Size and Weight: 2.5 feet/ 100 to 112 kg.
Color/Shape of Body: Brown, black, olive green, or gray | large head, long tail, rigid shell body.
Life Span: Around 11 to 45 years, but some of them can live up to more than a hundred years old
Diet: Plants and small mammals(as carnivorous).
Predators: Otters, fish, raccoons, and some other animals eat the baby one, adults are eaten by humans.
Distinctive Characteristic: Think shell, with three columns of pointy rigid large scales, similar to a dragon.
3: Common Snapping Turtle
The largest freshwater turtle in its family is the main ingredient in turtle soup. Currently recognized as the least concerned species.
Scientific Name: Chelydra serpentina.
Size and Weight: 1.5 feet/ 5 to 16 kgs.
Color/Shape of Body: Tan, dark brown, black | with a long tail, hefty face, and oval shell shape.
Life Span: Can live more than a hundred years.
Diet: Spiders, Snakes, Frogs, small insects and plants.
Predators: Foxes, raccoons, alligator snapping turtles, fishers, snakes(eat baby turtles and eggs), and a few others.
Distinctive Characteristic: Hard thick shell, with columns of box design, mostly covered with mud and algae.
4: Florida Softshell Turtle
Females are larger than males and can lay one of the largest amounts of eggs per year than any other reptile(around 20 to 38 eggs per clutch).
Scientific Name: Apalone Ferox.
Size and Weight: 0.5 to 1 foot/ 2 and a half kg approx.
Color/Shape of Body: Olive green and dark brown | Pancaked-shaped body.
Life Span: Live for about 20 years or more.
Diet: Insects, crustaceans, fish, snails, or sometimes small birds.
Predators: Alligators, while nests and juveniles are preyed on by skunks, otters, foxes, and raptors.
Distinctive Characteristic: A snout-shaped face, a soft shell with slightly bendable edges.
5: River Cooter
Mostly found in tidal marshals, lakes, and slow rivers, it is categorized as an Endangered species.
Scientific Name: Pseudemys concinna.
Size and Weight: 0.5 to 1 foot/ around 5 kg.
Color/Shape of Body: olive and brown, with white or yellow marking on shell | relatively flat shell.
Life Span: Up to 40 years.
Diet: Aquatic plants(as herbivores), but sometimes can eat meat showing their predatory behavior.
Predators: Otters, foxes, raccoons, and people also use them as food(sometimes).
Distinctive Characteristic: A dark green (olive) shell with a yellow bottom which is darker from the middle.
6: Florida Red-Bellied Cooter
They are a stable species in most regions other than Georgia. The females are slightly bigger than the males.
Scientific Name: Pseudemys Nelsoni.
Size and Weight: Around 1 foot/ nearly 4kg.
Color/Shape of Body: Brown to black, while red normally appears in the middle of the shell when it’s wet | highly doomed shell.
Life Span: 40 years or even more.
Diet: Arrowhead, duckweed, and waterweed as it is a primarily herbivore animal.
Distinctive Characteristic: Webbed feet and claws help them to strive both on land and in swamps/ water.
7: Florida Mud Turtle
Only found in Florida near Orlando, males are larger than females.
Scientific Name: Kinosternon stendachneri.
Size and Weight: 3 to 5 inches/ hardly 1 to 2 kg.
Color/Shape of Body: brown to dark brown | a significant oval-shaped shell
Life Span: 20 years or more.
Diet: shrimps, fish, bloodworms, snails and other worms.
Predators: Herons, alligators, and raccoons.
Distinctive Characteristic: Dark brown shell with a lighter color on the bottom, it is often found in ponds, muds, or lakes.
8: Chicken Turtle
It tastes just like a regular chicken which is the main reason for this name. It’s not listed as an endangered species.
Scientific Name: Deiochelus reticularia.
Size and Weight: between 4 to 10 inches(less than 1 foot)/ less than 1kg.
Color/Shape of Body: Bright yellow or orange lines on grayish shell and body | high rise pear-shaped doom shell.
Life Span: Around 22 years.
Diet: Crayfish, small larvae, insects, and other small fishes.
Predators: Alligators and humans, while nest feast is done by raccoons and snakes, also sometimes by fire ants.
Distinctive Characteristic: Extreme long neck(compared to other turtles) with a raised doom shell.
9: Pond Slider
It has stable species around the world, except it is considered endangered in some regions.
Scientific Name: Trachemys scripta.
Size and Weight: Around 11 to 14 inches(approx 1 foot)/ nearly 240 g (¼ of kg).
Color/Shape of Body: Multicolor with prominent orange, beige, and maroon | similar to a mud turtle, oval-shaped body.
Life Span: 30 years approx.
Diet: Small insects, fish, slugs, snails, and a couple of others.
Predators: Large fishes, skunks, raccoons, and some other animals.
Distinctive Characteristic: Red ears are the highlight of these species, where dark shade bodies and the shell are highlighted by yellow color lines.
10: Green Sea Turtle
These turtles are Known as Pacific green turtles, males are larger than their females and also have longer tails. It is one of the biggest sea turtles in its species.
Scientific Name: Chelonia Mydas.
Size and Weight: 3 to 4 feet/ 130 to 150 kg.
Color/Shape of Body: Olive, brown, or gray | heart-shaped shell enclosing the body.
Life Span: More than 70 years.
Diet: Starts as carnivorous eating insects, jellyfish, fish, and their eggs, the adults are omnivores adding mosses, algae, and seagrasses to their diet.
Predators: Sharks while the turtle eggs or hatchlings are consumed by crabs, mammals, and seabirds.
Distinctive Characteristic: Small head with a large body.
11: Loggerhead Sea Turtle
These turtles are most common in Florida, although now they are relatively endangered species.
Scientific Name: Caretta caretta.
Size and Weight: Around 2 to 3.5 feet/ from 70 to even 170 kgs.
Color/Shape of Body: Reddish-brown on top with yellowish bottom | almost heart-shaped body.
Life Span: 70 to 80 years on average.
Diet: Crabs and molluscs, also eat other small animals.
Predators: Humans and sharks, turtle eggs, or hatchlings are consumed by crabs, mammals, and seabirds.
Distinctive Characteristic: Strong jaws to crush its food easily, with a huge head.
Fun Fact: Most of the sea turtles(including all of the above-mentioned ones) lay eggs, under the sand, on the shores of the sea. Once hatched, these juveniles will walk towards the sea to enter the water. A lot of them are preyed upon during this process. The remaining ones start surviving in the water bodies.
These are the 11 types of turtles you can find in the land and water of Florida. There are a number of other unique species of turtles that are also available exclusive to Florida. If you are interested in visiting Florida, do add turtle sightseeing to your checklist.