Defining Characteristics and Behavior:
The Florida Red-bellied Cooter Turtle has a distinctive red-orange colored plastron (underside of the shell) that sets it apart from other cooter turtles. They have a dark green to black carapace (upper shell) with yellow or orange markings. Their head and legs are typically green or brown. These turtles are primarily herbivorous, feeding on aquatic vegetation. They are relatively social and often bask in groups on logs or rocks.
Habitat Preferences and Distribution:
- The Florida Red-bellied Cooter Turtle is found in the southeastern United States, specifically in Florida and Georgia.
- They prefer shallow, slow-moving bodies of water, such as ponds, swamps, and marshes, with lots of vegetation for food and cover.
- They are also found in man-made habitats such as canals, ditches, and golf course ponds.
- Florida Red-bellied Cooter Turtles can live up to 40 years in the wild.
- They reach sexual maturity at around 8-10 years of age.
- Males can be territorial and aggressive towards other males during the breeding season.
- Females lay clutches of 6-18 eggs in sandy areas near the water's edge.
- Hatchlings emerge after an incubation period of around 80-110 days.
- Florida Red-bellied Cooter Turtles are able to absorb oxygen through their skin while they are submerged, allowing them to stay underwater for extended periods of time.
- These turtles are known for their distinctive hissing sound, which they make when threatened or disturbed.
- In the wild, Florida Red-bellied Cooter Turtles are threatened by habitat loss, pollution, and collection for the pet trade.