Florida Red-bellied Cooter

Florida Red-bellied Cooter
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  • Item #: FRB

 

Scientific Name:  Pseudemys nelsoni

Identification:   The Florida redbelly can be distinguished from the other turtles by its distinctive red-tinged plastron (belly) and two cusps (like teeth) on its upper beak.   It has an olive-brown to blackish top shell, patterned with wide faded reddish markings. The underside of the top shell is red or orange. The head, feet and tail are black with bright yellow stripes. The bottom shell is orange or rusty red.  There is a single yellow stripe from nose down middle of head, no other yellow stripes on top.

Range: Okefenokee Swamp in southern Georgia west to Apalachicola, Florida, and south through peninsular Florida.

Diet:  In the wild, they are strong herbivores, preferring aquatic plants, with younger turtles taking in some insects.  In captivity, they do well on prepared foods such as Mazuri and ReptoMin, as well as veggies, fruits and aquatic plants.

The Florida redbelly is closely related to the Peninsula cooter (Pseudemys peninsularis) and can often be found basking on logs together. It reaches particularly high densities in spring runs, and occasionally can be found in brackish water.  In Florida, female red-bellied turtles often lay their eggs in alligator nests. This behavior has several potential advantages for the turtles. Alligator nests provide stable temperature and humidity for both turtle and alligator eggs, and while protecting her own eggs, the female alligator protects the turtle eggs against raccoons and other would-be egg predators. However, laying eggs in an alligator nest is risky – alligators have been seen to attack red-bellied turtles. Biologists believe the thick high-domed shell of this turtle is an adaptation that helps it survive alligator attacks. Close examination of the carapaces of red-bellied turtles often show tooth marks and deep gouges, evidence of unsuccessful attacks by alligators.
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