Florida softshell turtle

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Florida softshell turtle
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Family: Trionychidae
Subfamily: Trionychinae
Genus: Apalone
Species: A. ferox
Binomial name
Apalone ferox
(Schneider, 1783)
  • Testudo ferox Schneider, 1783
  • Testudo mollis Lacépède, 1788
  • Testudo bartrami Daudin, 1801
  • Emydes ferox Brongniart, 1805
  • Chelys bartramii Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1809 (ex errore)
  • Trionyx carinatus Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1809
  • Trionyx georgianus Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1809
  • Trionyx georgicus Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1809
  • Trionyx brongniarti Schweigger, 1812
  • Trionyx ferox – Schweigger, 1812
  • Amyda ferox Oken, 1816
  • Trionix ferox Gray, 1825
  • Aspidonectes carinatus Wagler, 1830
  • Aspidonectes ferox – Wagler, 1830
  • Trionyx bartrami LeConte, 1830
  • Testudo brongniartii Gray, 1831 (ex errore)
  • Mesodeca bartrami Rafinesque, 1832
  • Testudo bartramii A.M.C. Duméril & Bibron, 1835
  • Trionyx brongnartii A.M.C. Duméril & Bibron, 1835 (ex errore)
  • Trionyx harlani Bell, 1835
  • Platypeltis ferox Fitzinger, 1843
  • Aspenodectes ferox – LeConte, 1854
  • Platypeltis brongnartii O.P. Hay, 1903
  • Platypeltis erox O.P. Hay, 1903 (ex errore)
  • Amyda ferox ferox Neill, 1951
  • Trionyx ferox ferox Schmidt, 1953
  • Apalone ferox – Meylan, 1987
  • Trionix feroz Richard, 1999 (ex errore)
Florida softshell turtle (Apalone ferox) close up

The Florida softshell turtle (Apalone ferox) is a species of softshell turtle native to the Southeastern United States.

Geographic range[edit]

It is found primarily in the state of Florida, but it also ranges to southern sections of South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama.[3]



The Florida softshell turtle typically has a dark brown to olive green, leathery carapace with a white or cream-colored underside,[4] which visually conceals young turtles from potential predators.[5] It has a long neck and an elongated head with a long snorkel-like nose. It is the largest softshell turtle in North America and one of the largest freshwater turtles there, as well (only the alligator snapping turtle averages considerably larger), reaching about 15 to 76 cm (5.9 to 29.9 in) in length.[4] The female is larger, with the average male reaching only about 35 cm (14 in). The female can weigh up to 20 kg (44 lb), with the record weight documented at 43.6 kg (96 lb).[1][6] Nesting adult females were found to average 6.65 kg (14.7 lb) in weight, and measure 40.1 cm (15.8 in) in carapace length and 30.1 cm (11.9 in) in plastron length.[7] In comparison, 127 males were found to average 2.68 kg (5.9 lb) in weight and measure 22.75 cm (8.96 in) in plastron length.[6] In comparison, the juvenile is olive-yellow with grey spots and yellow lines. Also, yellow and orange markings are found on the head and the plastron is gray. The markings disappear or fade as it ages.[4]


The turtle is almost entirely aquatic, only emerging from the water to bask or to lay eggs.[4] It prefers the still waters of ponds, streams, lakes, and swamps. Like all softshells, it is very fast-moving in water and on land.[4] This species is carnivorous, consuming fish, insects, crustaceans, and molluscs. It may also scavenge.[1]


Alligators have been known to prey on the adult turtle. Raptors may take juveniles. Nest predators include the fish crow, foxes, raccoons, and skunks.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d van Dijk, P. P. 2011. Apalone ferox. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. Downloaded on 21 July 2013.
  2. ^ Fritz, U.; P. Havaš (2007). "Checklist of Chelonians of the World". Vertebrate Zoology 57 (2): 305–306. ISSN 1864-5755. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-12-17. Retrieved 29 May 2012. 
  3. ^ Apalone ferox (Schneider, 1783). USGS.
  4. ^ a b c d e Apalone. www.tortoise.org
  5. ^ Heron tries to swallow turtle for dinner. Daily Telegraph, 18 Dec 2009.
  6. ^ a b Meylan, P. A., Schuler, R., & Moler, P. (2002). Spermatogenic cycle of the Florida softshell turtle, Apalone ferox. Copeia, 2002(3), 779-786.
  7. ^ Iverson, J. B., & Moler, P. E. (1997). The female reproductive cycle of the Florida softshell turtle (Apalone ferox). Journal of Herpetology, 399-409.

External links[edit]