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Florida Softshell Turtle (Apalone ferox)
Florida Softshell Turtles are olive-green to brown in color and can be identified by their soft, rubbery shell and long noses. They can grow over 2 feet long and live up to 20 years if properly cared for.
Habitat and Tank Requirements:
This species is native to Southern North America.
This species does well with a soft, sandy substrate and plenty of clean water. Water should be kept at a temperature of around 70-75º F with a pH of 6-7. You will need a water filter to help maintain clean water. When choosing a filter, use common sense: a pump that is too small will leave the water dirty, while a too-powerful pump with filter out the microorganisms needed to maintain a healthy pH.
Adding aquatic plants will improve the water quality, the look of the habitat, and give your turtle a place to bask. Rocks or wood should also be added to give your turtle a place to rest.
Florida Softshells should be kept by themselves or in an enclosure with lots of space. Overcrowded Softshells can become territorial. If keeping more than one, be sure there is enough room for each turtle to claim its own space.
These turtles do well with an ambient temperature of 70-80º F. LEDs or other low-wattage light bulbs work best for maintaining these temperatures. A basking area should be kept at about 90º F. You can use either a ceramic heat emitter or a reptile basking light for this. Heat rocks are not recommended as they can burn your animal.
Florida Softshell Turtles are mainly carnivorous and will feed on small crickets, mealworms, wax worms, feeder fish, pinkie mice, and shrimp as well as floating turtle pellets. It is recommended that food be dusted with calcium to prevent bone softening.
Allow your turtle time to become accustomed to its new home before handling them extensively. Handling them little by little over a period of time lets the animal get used to you and reduces stress.