Common Name: Florida Softshell Turtle
Scientific Name: Apalone ferox
Species: A. ferox
The Florida soft shell turtle is a pretty weird looking turtle. It has eyes that are positioned towards the front of the head and has a large snout. The common name of it is the Florida soft shell turtle, but the scientific name is Apalone ferox The usual size of these turtles is usually around 6”-12” for a male and female 8”-24”. They are the largest of all the species in Apalone. The Florida soft shell turtles have a dark brownish green color carapace that is like leather with a cream colored underside. A skin-covered shell is an adaptation that allows them to stay under water for longer, so dehydration is a major threat for them.
Florida soft shell turtles are found in Florida, and also South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia. Most of these turtles are ending up on dinner plates because of their meat. A few years ago 25 tons of live turtles were shipped from Sumatra to China every week. Commercial market hunters now search all over Florida for these soft shell turtles to take to Asia. The humane society and also other animal welfare organizations come together and are trying to ban the turtle trade to help protect Florida’s turtle from cruel treatment and extinction.
Florida soft shell turtles are carnivorous, they like to feast on almost anything, but mostly feed on water insects, fish, crustaceans, crayfish and etc. When they are in the zoo they usually diet on worms, fish and mice. Mostly humans are the predators in this case. These turtles can’t really avoid anything to avoid being eaten. As you first learn about this animal you might say “boring!”, but it’s actually pretty interesting the fact that it is going extinct stood out the most.
I learned that the Florida soft shell turtle isn’t like other turtles in many different ways. This turtle being so rare these days and with the possibility that it could become extinct is frightening. If it’s features were close to the common turtles it may not be so alarming that this species could not exist.
Author: Amanda D.
Sources: www.lakejacksonturtles.org/softshell.pdf www.examiner.com/x-2161-Tampa-Small-Pets-Examiner~y2008m12d31-Florida-softshell-turtle-population-threatened - 83k nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/ReptilesAmphibians/Facts/FactSheets/Floridasoftshelledturtle.cfm - 27k Moon Florida Gulf Coast; Avalon Travel Publishing; 2nd edition (October 1, 2008) Avalon Travel Publishing; 2nd edition (October 1, 2008)