Here's a soft shell variety of terrapin. Just look at this guy. He seems so flat and floppy. These turtles look like big leathery pancakes. The adults are brownish-green or tan with blotches on their skin. Their shells are covered with skin, and are soft around the edges. Their noses are long and round. When they swim, they stay underwater and stick their nose up to breathe, like a snorkel. Their feet are webbed and their necks are quite long. What an amazing species!
Softshell turtles can be very aggressive, and they sometimes bite each other and turtles of other species spontaneously or when feeding. Turtles with soft shells tend to be more aggressive than their more protected relatives. Florida softshell turtles are found on the coastal plains south of Mobile Bay, Alabama, and Charleston, South Carolina, including all of Florida except the Keys. Their preferred habitat is slow-moving bodies of fresh water with mud or sand bottoms. They spend much of their time buried in the soft bottom with only their head exposed. Softshell turtles are primarily carnivorous, feeding on aquatic insects, crustaceans, mollusks, fish, waterfowl and amphibians.
The Red-Footed Tortoise is a captive-bred, readily available and fairly hardy tortoise that makes a wonderful captive. Adults range from 10 to 14 inches in length, and originate across South America tropical forests and grasslands.
Red-footed tortoises require strong enclosures - it is best to make an indoor tortoise enclosure long and relatively narrow. A temperature gradient should be provided or a hot rock may also be used so long as a cool area is always provided. Red-footed tortoises are almost half bone and shell, so they have a
great need for calcium. In order to absorb all the calcium they require,
calcium levels in their diet must exceed phosphorus levels.
Foods high in calcium, but low in phosphorus, include dandelion greens, collard greens, parsley, kelp, watercress, celery and orange rind. An almost exclusive vegetarian diet is best; pesticide-free grass can provide roughage.
I envy the carapace (shell) of the Rio Grande Cooter which is a colorful oval and elongated, flattened, with a slight keel (highest in middle). This fella has tooth-like cusps and webbed feet. Males have longer fingernails on forelimbs than females. The carapace is olive with blotches of alternating yellow and black. Scutes have four distinct bulls-eyes with black and yellow rings. His belly (plastron) is yellow with pigment along seams, which fade with age.
Skin is brown or olive with yellow stripes on neck, legs and tail. Wide yellow stripe down middle of head and neck. Carapace reaches lengths of approx 9.5 inches as adults (females larger than males).
Found along the Rio Grande and Pecos River drainages in Texas and southern New Mexico. Isolated populations have been found in several northern states in Mexico. The Rio Grande cooter is found in clear pools in New Mexico, but can be found in clear to muddy streams in Texas.
Not much is known about the diet of this species, but preliminary results indicate that it may be primarily a vegetarian. Sadly, the Rio Grande cooter is not a protected species in Texas and can be legally collected with a hunting license.
The Leopard tortoise is a large and attractively marked tortoise found in the savannas of eastern and southern Africa, from Sudan to the southern Cape. This chelonian is a grazing species of tortoise that favors semi-arid, thorny to grassland habitats, although some leopard tortoises have been found in rainier areas. In both very hot and very cold weather they may dwell in abandoned fox, jackal, or anteater holes. Leopard tortoises do not dig other than to make nests in which to lay eggs. It grazes extensively upon mixed grasses as well as succulents and thistles, and (in captivity) the fruit and pads of the prickly pear cactus. The African Leopard Tortoise typically lives 80 to 100 years.
The leopard tortoise is the fourth largest species of tortoise in the world, with typical adults reaching 18-inch and weighing 40-pound An adult's maximum shell length can reach 24-inches in diameter. The giant Ethiopian form might reach 39-in in rare cases. Also, in much rarer cases in countries such as Sudan with their high humidity rainforests this type of tortoise can reach up to lengths of 45 inches.
All tucked in!
It is a large and attractively marked tortoise. The carapace is high and domed, and pyramid shaped scutes are not uncommon. The skin and background color is cream to yellow, and the carapace is marked with black blotches, spots or even dashes or stripes. Each individual is marked uniquely.
Leopard tortoises are herbivorous. They are more defensive than offensive, retracting feet and head into their shell for protection. This often results in a hissing sound, probably due to the squeezing of air from the lungs as the limbs and head are retracted.
This is the most widely distributed tortoise in Southern Africa. Leopard tortoises are increasingly being bred in captivity. This is a positive development, as it should lead to a gradual reduction in demand for animals caught in the wild.
There are several types of turtles you could own as a pet, including aquatic turtles such as the red-eared slider, box turtles and tortoises. Each of these turtles has different dietary needs and preferences, so the first step in keeping it healthy is to have it identified by an experienced veterinarian.
Foods for Pet Turtles
Depending on the species, turtles can be herbivores (eating only plants), carnivores (eating only meat) or omnivores (eating both plants and meat). Pet stores offer a range of turtle food products in pellets, sticks and chunks, formulated for different types of turtles and providing balanced nutrition with appropriate vitamins and minerals to keep the turtles healthy. However, this type of bland food is not the only thing turtles can eat, and it can be healthier and less expensive to offer turtles a range of fresh foods.
Foods popular for pet turtles, depending on the species, include: Protein: Boiled eggs, mealworms, snails, crickets, earthworms Vegetables: Corn, beans, beets, carrots, peas, squash, yams Greens: Carrot tops, lettuce, collard greens, kale, spinach Fruits: Apples, grapes, strawberries, cantaloupe, banana, kiwi, mango, tomato Flowers: Geraniums, dandelions, petunias, lilies, carnations
In addition to a range of foods and pet store supplements, offering pet turtles an additional source of calcium - necessary for a strong, healthy shell - is also a good idea. Crushed eggshells, oyster shells and cuttlebone are all fantastic calcium sources that you can add to your turtle's diet on a regular basis. Pet Turtle Feeding Tips
The best diet for a pet turtle is one that is fresh and varied to provide a range of nutritional sources. Just like humans, turtles have individual tastes, and offering different foods will help keep the turtle well fed and happy. More tips for feeding pet turtles include:
Avoid offering turtles any dairy products such as milk, yogurt or cheese. They cannot digest dairy, and it will cause illness.
Offer protein sources only every two to three days to avoid too much protein in the turtle's diet.
Avoid raw meat or hamburger as it may become tainted and rotten before the turtle eats it.
Offer foods in small pieces that are easier for the turtle to eat. Turtles do not have teeth and use their jaws to cut food into bite-sized pieces.
Fresh foods are best; do not leave food in a turtle's tank or cage where it can mold or rot. Always clean the food dish before adding another serving.
Turtles in the Wild
Turtles who live in the wild are like most other reptiles - they eat whatever they come across. A turtle's diet ranges depending on regional factors and whatever it has access to within its habitat. Aquatic turtles and land turtles have different diets.
Aquatic Turtle Diet
Aquatic turtles, such as soft shell turtles, eat mostly protein which can be found in the water. These proteins may consist of:
Larger aquatic turtles, such as snapping turtles, may eat ducks or other birds who are resting on the water's surface.
Land Turtle Diet
Land turtles, such as desert tortoises, are usually herbivores, eating vegetation they come across in their region. Foods they may eat include:
Cacti and cactus pears
Fruits, such as blueberries, palmetto berries, and raspberries
Feeding Your Turtle a Healthy Diet
Pet turtles can eat a wide range of foods, from small insects to fruits and vegetables to flowers. Therefore, owners need to offer a widely varied, balanced diet to keep a pet turtle healthy and happy. By choosing different foods and feeding the turtle well, including adding pet store supplements to ensure enough vitamins and minerals, a pet turtle can live a long and well-fed life.