Common Name: Florida Red-bellied Turtle
Scientific Name: Pseudemys nelsoni
Species: P. nelsoni
Pseudemys nelsoni. Is it a mammal? Or a bird? Actually, it's the Florida Red-bellied Turtle or Cooter. Only found in Florida's remote marshes, lakes, creeks and ponds, this turtle is abundant in that area. It just sits and basks in the hot sun for hours, its shell is so thick.
The Cooter's diet consists mainly of water, lettuce, algae, dandelions or anything vegetarian found in or around the water. Their vegetarian diet grows stricter as it gets older. Occasionally, the hatchlings will take in worms or other insects for needed protein. Its only competitors for food are the other turtles in the same area, such as the Mud Turtles and Sliders. The food is so abundant though, there's no major competing for food. Its predators are any large birds like owls, but it's very elusive with its dark shell and the thick plants, making it easy to disappear in the vegetation.
The Red-belly is very colorful. It can grow to be up to about 14 inches long. It also has a big, dark red splotch on its underbelly that darkens with age. Around the red can be various shades of yellows, reds, oranges, and light pinks. The top shell is brown with thin red lines bordering the edges of the shell.
To tell females from males, people look at their claws. The males' are always longer and curved, while the females' claws are straight and narrow.
The population of the Cooter is large and stable. While they are found in
Florida, they can also be found in zoos and in homes all across the U.S. as house pets.
One interesting fact about this turtle is that it is also known as
Pseudemys nelsoni. It is also known that it is active year-round. It is also an ectoderm, or cold-blooded.
Author: Lindsey S.
Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Life Science textbook. Pgs used: 334-335,