Florida Cooter

Pseudemys peninsularis

Description: The Peninsula cooter is a large turtle with very similar physical characteristics to the river cooter. These include a dark carapace (top of shell), light colored plastron (bottom of shell), and a striped head and neck.  On younger Peninsula cooters concentric markings on its shell are usually visible. Markings are usually vertical and lack the “C” on the second side scute characteristic of the river cooter. However, on older individuals, this is often not visible.

Range: They can be found in most of Florida and then north along the east coast to southern Virginia.

Habitat: Peninsula cooters are normally found in still water, such as wetlands, marshes, and ponds.

Diet:
Wild: The Peninsula cooter is mostly herbivorous and feeds primarily on aquatic vegetation.
Zoo: Turtle pellets, lettuce

Fun Fact: Peninsula 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.