Description: A large: 8-14 inches (20.3-37.5 cm), basking
turtle with a highly-domed shell. Pseudemys nelsoni
usually has strong reddish to orangish tint on plastron
that is very distinctive in young. Juveniles also exhibit plastral
markings in complete semicircular form also the seams of the plastron.
Broad vertical stripe on second costal is also indicative of this
species. Few head stripes are seen but a light stripe running
between the eyes creates an arrowhead pointing at the snout.
The notch on the upper jaw of the Florida Redbelly is bordered
on either side by strong cusps.
Range and Habitat: Found primarily in Florida for the
Suwannee River area south with an isolated population found in
Apalachicola on the panhandle, with extensions into very southeast
Georgia, where it is common on Cumberland Island. Introduced populations
can be found in Texas. Pseudemys nelsoni can be found in
streams, ponds, lakes, ditches, sloughs, marshes and mangrove-bordered
creeks- usually water with rich aquatic plant life.
Habits: Often can be observed basking. Adults are primarily
herbivorous. Adults lay between 12 and 30 eggs in late spring
to early summer, and often nests in alligator nests or away from
Conservation: While not listed with the Georgia DNR, Pseudemys
nelsoni has been considered "imperiled" for its
small range in Georgia. Not ranked in Florida or Texas.
Account Author: Amelia Gleaton, University of Georgia
- edited by J.D. Willson