Florida Red-bellied Turtle

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Species group:

Other common names: Florida Red-bellied Cooter; Floida Red Belly Turtle or Cooter

Scientific name: Pseudemys nelsoni

The basics:
The Florida Red-bellied Turtle is found in deep and large bodies of water that are slow moving with sandy or muddy bottoms and lots of aquatic plants. Their range extends from southern Georgia into Florida.

Appearance / health:
Florida Red-bellied Turtles have a dark arched carapace with a red-orange horizontal band in each marginal scute. They have a mostly red orange to yellow plastron with few or no dark blotches and dark olive to grey skin with bright yellow stripes. Unlike the Northern Red-bellied Turtle the stripe behind the eye ends at the eye and does not extend to the nose. They do darken with age loosing much of their colorful markings.



Behavior / temperament:
These turtles will often live in groups peacefully. They spend a great amount of time basking. With people they can be timid, but in time will learn trust their humans.

In most climates these turtles can and should be housed outdoors, at least in the summer. To maintain a healthy environment for an adult Florida Red-bellied Turtle a minimum tank size should be no less than 90 gallons for each turtle. This gives ample room to provide the turtle with a naturally designed habitat that includes large stones as a substrate, a rock outcropping for basking, and have clean water. They will also need aquatic non-toxic plants and hiding holes. They are messy creatures, preferring to eat and defecate in their water. The tank or pond must have a highly efficient filtration system. Weekly partial water changes are necessary in between the monthly complete water change and tank clean up. When housed indoors they will need a basking lamp and UVB lamp. Make sure to predator proof and escape proof any backyard habitat.

LIFESPAN: 30 – 40 years

TEMPERATURE/HUMIDITY: Air Temperature: 80 - 85° F, Basking: 80 - 94° F, Water Temperature: 70 – 75° F.

HIBERNATION / ESTIVATION: Florida Red-bellied Turtles do not hibernate.

HEALTH CONCERNS: Florida Red-belleid Turtles can carry salmonella and internal parasites. The most common illnesses of pet turtles are due to poor care and nutrition. As a result they can suffer from Metabolic Bone Disorder (improper calcium/phosphorous amounts), Gout, and Pyramiding. Pyramiding is the overgrowth of the shell from too much protein in the diet. They can also suffer from respiratory illnesses; symptoms will include runny eyes and nose, and swimming erratically or floating lopsided.

Young Florida Red-bellied Turtles are omnivores while adults eat more vegetation than meat. In the wild most of their adult diet are aquatic plants. They can be fed a commercial turtle pellet supplemented with duckweed, mealworms, crickets, live feeder fish, fruit, dandelions, mustard greens, or mushrooms. If their aquarium is well planted with edible plants they only need to be fed once or twice a week.

These turtles mate year round and can lay up to 70 eggs each year. In the wild they like to lay their eggs in the nests of alligators.

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