The Florida softshell turtle (Apalone ferox) is a species of softshell turtle native to the southeastern United States, and is one of the fastest turtles to move on land.
It is found primarily in the state of Florida, but it also ranges to southern sections of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, .
Introduced outside of range
They are widely distributed by the pet industry. Individual specimens have been found released to the wild well outside of their range, but they are not known to have established outside of their native habitat.
This species was formerly in the genus Trionyx.
The Florida softshell turtle typically has a dark brown to olive green, leathery carapace with a white or cream colored underside, which provides the turtle with effective protection from some predators. They have a long neck, an elongated head, with a long snorkel-like nose. Juveniles have dark blotching, which fades as they age. On some occasions,Florida softshell turtles can sprint quickly back into a pond or lake to get away from danger. They grow to a large size, ranging from 15–76 cm (5.9–30 in) in length. They are the largest of all the species in the genus Apalone and the largest soft-shell turtles in North America. Females are larger with males only reaching about 35 cm (14 in). A male of this species weighed 4.77 kg (10.5 lb), whereas females can typically range up to 20 kg (44 lb). Exceptionally, females can tip the scales at as much as 43.6 kg (96 lb). The juveniles are olive-yellow with grey spots and a yellow lined carapace. Juveniles also have yellow and orange markings on the head and a gray plastron. These marking disappear as it ages, although adults sometimes show traces of the markings.
Florida softshell turtles are almost entirely aquatic, generally only emerging from the water to bask or to lay their eggs. They prefer still waters and can be found in ponds, streams, rivers, lakes and swamps. These turtles are usually shy around humans, but when they feel threatened they will bite with their strong jaws. Like all soft-shells they are very fast in water and on land. In captivity they have been known to live up to 30 years old, although in the wild their lifespans are shorter.
The Florida softshell is highly carnivorous, consuming fish, frogs and other amphibians, insects, duck hatchlings and crustaceans.
Life in Captivity
Apalone Ferox should only be kept in an aquarium if it is a male and not one of the larger males at that. The aquarium for a male should be no less than 75 gallons but 90 gallons or more is what should actually be used. Females grow so large that they are kept in ponds outdoors as pets. The water in the aquarium should be kept between 73 to 80 degrees. These turtles thrive in as deep of water as you can give them. Also the water has to be extremely clean. A four stage reaction filter with a UV light is required to keep the water up to par. water should be changed every week and once a month the filter changed and cleaned. A basking area is also necessary. The temperature of the basking area should be kept at an exact 8 to 10 degrees warmer than the water. The turtle in an aquarium should have UVA bulb for heat in basking area, and UVB for necessary nutrition because there bodies need lots of calcium and they can not process calcium without a UVB bulb. They also need to be provided with a shallow water area and sand where they can burrow under the sand under water and still be able to stick there head up for air. The aquarium should provide a large variety of temperatures so the reptile can move around and control his own body temperature.