Habitat and Ecology
Apalone ferox inhabits a wide variety of permanent freshwater bodies, as well as some occurrence in ephemeral waterbodies and brackish situations. Shallow vegetated lake and marsh areas with deeper canals and at least localized sandy banks represent optimal habitat (Meylan and Moler 2006).
Apalone ferox are primarily carnivorous, feeding on snails, insects, fish, crayfish, and occasionally clams and tetrapod vertebrates; part of this may represent scavenging.
Significant nest predators include foxes, raccoons, skunks and fish crows, while hatchlings and juveniles may be consumed by raptors and various other predators. Adults are very occasionally taken by alligators (Meylan and Moler 2006).
Female A. ferox can reach over 70 cm carapace length (CL) and well over 20 kg (record 43.5 kg - Pritchard 2001).
Females reach sexual maturity between 25 and 40 cm CL, at an unknown age. Average size of nesting females in a Pinellas Co. population was 50 cm CL and 10.3 kg (Heinrich and Boykin, in Meylan and Moler 2006)
Males reach sexual maturity between 15 and 21 cm CL, at about 0.7 kg, at an unknown age (Meylan and Moler 2006).
Most but not all females reproduce annually, while some females may produce up to seven clutches per year (Iverson and Moler 1997). Clutch size is correlated to female size, averaging 18 to 39 eggs per clutch, with the very largest females producing over 225 eggs per year. Hatchlings measure on average 41 mm CL (range 36-44 mm) at a weight of 9.7 (range 8-11) g (Meylan and Moler 2006).