Spotting wildlife is one of the most exciting and memorable experiences you’ll have while on a tour with Peace River Charters. The freshwater turtle is a fan favorite of all the creatures you’ll see in their natural habitat. From legs stretched out sunning on a rock to poking their heads out of water for a quick breath, you’ll likely spot several on your next tour.
The southeastern United States is one of the most abundant areas in the world for turtle diversity. Florida has more than 30 native turtle species, each with unique characteristics and habits. Read on to learn more about Florida’s freshwater turtles.
Florida Chicken Turtle
The Florida Chicken turtle is one of three subspecies of the Chicken Turtle. Why the name? Well, some say the meat of this turtle tastes like chicken. This turtle stands out by its brightly colored yellow or orange belly and bright yellow stripes on its legs. It is modest in size, ranging from 6-10 inches.
The Florida Chicken Turtle has an unusually long neck and webbed feet making it a quick swimmer capable of chasing after small fish and crustaceans. They love small, muddy, slow-moving bodies of water, like the Peace River.
Common Snapping Turtle
The snapping turtle is one of the most recognizable freshwater turtles in Florida. Massive, hardy, and very adaptable, these prehistoric-looking creatures can live for more than 100 years. Their size alone makes them easy to identify, ranging from 10-20 inches and weighing up to 20 pounds! They are tough creatures with sturdy, textured shells that provide solid defense, though they do not have many predators.
Known as ambush hunters, these aggressive turtles grow large amounts of moss and algae on their shells that camouflage their bodies as they wait for prey. A sharp, pointed beak is one of their most distinctive characteristics. Combined with a powerful and quick bite, these beaks allow them to tear into the flesh of their prey.
Florida Softshell Turtle
Perhaps the most distinctive looking of the freshwater turtles, this species has a flat, soft, smooth shell and a long, pointed snout. They have broad, webbed feet and tiny claws on the end of each toe.