Florida Soft-shell Turtle (Trionyx ferox)

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WHAT DO SOFT-SHELL TURTLES LOOK LIKE?   Florida Soft-shell Turtles (Trionyx ferox) look like big leathery pancakes.   They are brownish-green or tan with blotches on their skin.  Their shells are covered with skin, and are soft around the edges.  Their noses are long and round.   When they swim, they stay underwater and stick their nose up to breathe, like a snorkel.  Their feet are webbed and their necks are VERY, VERY long.  They can stick their long neck out and bite you if you’re not careful!  The females are much bigger than the males.  Females can get up to 24 inches long.  Males can only grow to 12 inches

shelllpic.jpg (5486 bytes)HOW DO THEY SPEND THEIR TIME?  Both female and male soft-shell turtles eat crayfish, snails, frogs, fish, and even baby ducks.  They spend most of their time in the waters of lakes, ponds, and ditches.  This drawing shows you the shape of a soft-shelled turtle’s shell.  It does not go all the way to the edge of his pancake shape.  That’s why his shell seems so soft.


Behler, John L. And F. Wayne King. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles & Amphibians. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1992.
Conant, Roger and Joseph Williams. Reptiles and Amphibians. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1991.

Provided by the Pelotes Island Nature Preserve

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