Florida Softshell Turtle

 

Photo by Kent

Photo by Tim

 

SCIENTIFIC NAME

Apalone ferox

ADULT SIZE

Male    6" - 12"           Female   8" - 24"

DIET

In the wild, they are strong carnivores, preferring crayfish, snails, mussels, frogs and assorted worms and insects. some haev been know to eat some vegetation.

TEMPERATURE RANGE (F)

Air Temperature:  Low to Mid 80's

Basking Temperature:  Mid to High 80's

Water Temperature:  Mid 70's

HABITAT

Mud or sand-bottomed lakes, ponds or slow moving streams.

DISTRIBUTION

South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Mobile Bay.

BEGINNER TURTLE

Male    Yes

Female   No

CAPTIVE HABITAT

This turtle does bask, so a basking spot will need to be provided. They prefer deep, soft-bottomed habitats, with a lot of vegetation. A shelf that is submerged just below the surface of the water that allows them to rest underwater yet reach their neck up and breath is also recommended. Either artificial plants or aquatic plants are suggested, although both types my be dislodged by the softshell when it buries in the substrate. The substrate, if used, should be sand or a fine gravel. UVB lighting is required, as well as a heat lamp over the basking area. A submersible heater is also recommended. Sharp decorations and rough terrain features should be avoided, as they can often bring injury to softshelled turtles. Water depth should be as deep as possible.

RECOMMENDED ENCLOSURE

Recommended size for a single adult Apalone ferox would be a 75 gallon aquarium as a minimum (90 or larger preferred) for a male. It is not recommended that female  Apalone ferox be maintained in conventional aquariums. They are too large as adults and require an extreme amount of space. Stock tanks would be the ideal choice, with a minimum requirement of 400 gallons (600 gallon or larger preferred). This will provide adequate swimming area, as well as assisting the filtration in maintaining good water quality. For additional male Apalone ferox, I would recommend adding 75 gallons of tank space per additional turtle at a minimum. For a female, add no less than 100 gallons of space, per turtle.

Stock Tanks and Rubbermaid containers also work well. The same space recommendations remain the same.

CAPTIVE DIET

In captivity, they do well on Mazuri and ReptoMin, Reptile/Pond 10, Cichlid Sticks, fish, worms, insects and pinkie mice.

COMMUNITY HABITAT

It is not recommended that Florida Softshells be kept in community habitats with species outside of other Florida Softshells, however, there have been those that have had success keeping them with Mud Turtles, Musk Turtles, Sliders, Cooters, Map Turtles and Painted Turtles.

OTHER INFORMATION

Apalone ferox is an aggressive species. Even their Latin name of "ferox" means ferocious.