Everglades Freshwater Turtles
The Florida Everglades is home to thousands of animal species. From mammals to reptiles, birds to insects, anyone who adventures into Everglades National Park is sure to encounter animals along the way. As you’re on the lookout for alligators during our swamp buggy or airboat tour, you may notice small heads popping in and out of the water’s surface. Though what you’re looking at may be a fish or a bird it is likely one of many local turtle species. Some of the most commonly seen turtles include, Florida Softshell Turtles, Striped Mud Turtles, and the Snapping Turtle. Learn about each of these fascinating reptiles below so you’re able to identify them as they bask along the shores or swim amongst the sawgrass during your tour.
Florida Softshell Turtles
One of the most interesting looking creatures in the Everglades is the Florida Softshell Turtle. This large, flat turtle has skin covering its shell and a very long neck. When full grown, males reach 6-12 inches and females may reach 11-24 inches. The unique characteristics found on the Florida Softshell Turtle are due partially to its preferred habitat. Soft Shell Turtles like to partially bury itself in soft mud and is said to be especially speedy at tunneling and digging. Their long neck and nose can be seen sticking above the water while swimming.
Striped Mud Turtle
The Striped Mud Turtle is a small, aquatic turtle with an oval shaped shell. When they are full grown, the Striped Mud Turtle can reach four inches in length. This turtle has a brown shell with three stripes that may not be visible. The underside of the shell is a lighter brown. You can easily identify these turtles by the two small yellow stripes on each side of their heads. The Striped Mud Turtle is different from most other turtles species in South Florida in that females nest in the fall, rather than the spring or summer. Striped mud turtles inhabit calm freshwater habitats, such as swamps and canals.
One of the more unique species of turtles in the Everglades is the Snapping Turtle. These are prehistoric looking creatures. Snapping Turtles get their common name from their tendency to snap or strike defensively when they feel threatened, and they are indeed capable of delivering a bite. With its primitive looks, the Snapping Turtle is easily recognizable. The shell of a snapping turtle is adorned with jagged ridges that range from black, brown, tan to olive in color. These turtles can be found in most freshwater habitats in the Everglades including lakes, ponds, marshes, swamps and slow-moving streams and rivers. They have also been known to wander into brackish habitats occasionally.