Florida Cooter (Pseudemys floridana)

Photos by J.D. Willson unless otherwise noted

Description: Florida Cooters are large turtles, ranging in size from 23 to 33 cm (9 – 13 in.), and are flatter in appearance than the similar slider turtle (Trachemys scripta). Their carapace has a dark background with a yellow or orange pattern. The plastron has no markings, and there are hollow oval markings on the marginal scutes. The yellowish orange stripes on the head do not form “hairpins”, as in close relative P. peninsularis. The Florida cooter is very similar in appearance to the peninsula cooter (P. peninsularis) and River Cooter (P. concinna). Until very recently, P. peninsularis was considered a subspecies of P. floridana and recent evidence has suggested that P. concinna and P. floridana belong to the same species.

Range and Habitat: Florida Cooters are found throughout the Southeastern Coastal Plain and prefer permanent waters with soft sandy bottoms and abundant vegetation, such as ponds, lakes, swamps, marshes, and slow-moving rivers. They are frequently observed basking on logs.

Habits: Florida Cooters are opportunistic omnivores with females feeding mainly on aquatic vegetation, while males prey on a variety of aquatic invertebrates. They are fairly social turtles, often basking in groups.

Conservation Status: The Florida Cooter’s conservation status is unknown. Monitoring studies must be established to assess its abundance in Georgia.

Pertinent Reference:
Seidel, M. E. 1994. Morphometric analysis and taxonomy of cooter and red-bellied turtles in the North American genus Pseudemys (Emydidae). Chelonian Conservation and Biology 1(2): 117-130.

Account Author: Aaliyah Greene – revised by J.D. Willson