Pseudemys floridana Photo Fiona Sunquist ©
The Florida cooter is one of the most frequently seen turtles in the state’s waterways. The dark olive-brown top shell has faint to bright yellow markings on each plate and the head and feet are dark brown with bright yellow stripes. Florida cooters grow to a maximum length of 38 cm (15 inches).
Florida cooters construct an unusual 3-hole nest, digging one deep center hole and shallower ‘false nest’ holes on either side. The female lays most of the eggs in the center hole, putting only one or two eggs in each of the false nests. The false nests are thought to distract predators from the main nest, although in most cases predators appear to find all three. If you come across three smallish holes recently excavated in an area the size of a paperback book, look for eggshells. It is probably a Florida cooter nest raided by an armadillo or a raccoon.
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