Apalone ferox — Florida Softshell
The 83 acres of Fairchild Tropical Garden are home to a wide variety of native and introduced herps. In addition to several of these softshells, we also saw brown anoles, green anoles, bark anoles, a Knight anole, and a dozen large green iguanas. A few American alligators inhabit the lakes on the garden grounds too, though we didn't see them.
Four years later, and the turtles at Fairchild Tropical Garden haven't changed much, or even moved much. They are real live turtles though, I assure you.
When I arrived at Fairchild Tropical Garden shortly after it opened, I spotted this turtle trundling slowly across dry land. But when it saw me coming it put on a burst of turtle speed and dove into a shallow pond. Once in the pond it was perfectly content to hang around nearby, but it sure didn't want to get caught on land.
Now that's a big, weird-looking, leathery turtle with a funny snout. It's soft shell has certainly seen its share of scratches.
If anything, they are even weirder looking when basking on the shore than when floating in the water.
I hadn't been back to Fairchild in a number of years, so I was obligated to take more photos of this species there.
- Bartlett, R. D., Bartlett, P. B. 1999. A Field Guide to Florida Reptiles and Amphibians
- Behler, J. L., King, F. W. 1979. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles & Amphibians
- Carmichael, P., Williams, W. 1991. Florida's Fabulous Reptiles & Amphibians
- Crother, B. I. (ed.) 2017. Scientific and Standard English Names of Amphibians and Reptiles of North America North of Mexico, with Comments Regarding Confidence in Our Understanding, Eighth Edition
- Ernst, C. H., Barbour, R. W. 1989. Turtles of the World