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Freshwater Turtles

Escambia map turtle (18000 bytes) Of the 26 turtle species found in or around Florida, 18 are freshwater turtle species. Turtles are reptiles and are generally distinguished by a hard shell, but the softshell turtles have a rubbery shell that allows them to both bury themselves in the sand and swim very fast. Florida's aquatic turtles may walk slowly on land but are quicker in the water, and have webs between their toes to help them swim. Not included among the freshwater turtles are 5 species of marine turtles, the brackish-water diamondback terrapin, and 2 species that prefer life on dry land - the gopher tortoise and box turtle.

Turtles are usually not a threat to humans, but you should not underestimate the powerful jaws of the Florida snapping turtle, the alligator snapping turtle, or the Florida softshell turtle. The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) regulates all turtle harvest, which is closed for softshell turtles and their eggs during May 1 through July 31, and river cooters may not be taken 15 April - 31 July. You may see possession limits and the rules concerning reptiles here. Several freshwater turtle species are protected in Florida; the Lower Keys population of the striped mud turtle is endangered, and the alligator snapping turtle, Barbour's map turtle, Suwannee cooter, and gopher tortoise are species of special concern. In Florida, it is illegal to take, possess, transport, or sell gopher tortoises, or their eggs, except as authorized by the FWC.

More information

Common turtles of Corkscrew swamp, Collier County, Florida

"The Turtle Pages"

Alabama’s freshwater turtles

Georgia's turtles

Florida turtle online coloring book