Land and Sea: Turtles, Terrapins, and Tortoises

Florida is home to many types of shelled reptiles – turtles, terrapins, and tortoises. While they look similar, these three animals lead very different lives. How can you tell the difference?

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TURTLESĀ spend most of their time in the water. They have webbed feet so they are strong swimmers. Turtles subsist on aquatic vegetation. Turtles are extremely common in Florida ponds. Sea turtles nest on the beaches of Florida. Their nests are well marked with yellow tape.

Diamondback Terrapin
Diamondback Terrapin

TERRAPINSĀ can live in water as well as on land. They are often found in swampy areas or lakes and ponds. Terrapins can often be found on the edge of inland ponds or swampy ares. The diamondback terrapin is the one you’ll most likely see in Southwest Florida.

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TORTOISES live only on land. Their stumpy legs make it impossible for them to swim. Gopher tortoises are native to Southwest Florida and are commonly seen on Sanibel and at Barefoot Beach Preserve in Collier County.


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