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Florida red-bellied cooter
- Pseudemys nelsoni

The Florida red-bellied cooter only suitable for keeping in a pond in summer. As this turtle does not hibernate with the cold, should never be attempted. It would mean the death of the animal.

Florida red-bellied cooter
“Florida red-bellied cooter” (Pseudemys nelsoni) at Boy Scout Camp Echockotee. Fresh water spring covered with vegetation. – 159766 – dr. Tibor Duliskovich – http://www.duliskovich.com, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons



The Florida red-bellied cooter, of scientific name Pseudemys nelsoni, is originally from the United States. This turtle is especially common in Florida and Georgia.

Characteristics / Appearance

The Florida red-bellied cooter It is a large, heavily armored turtle with a relatively tall shell.. Head lines are less conspicuous than in other ornate turtles, but a fringe runs below the eyes, it forks and a branch on each side runs to the nose.

There are two small bumps on the edge of the upper jaw., like little teeth. The marginal scutes have a reddish stripe and black dots below.. The plastron is yellow-orange to reddish in color and gives the species its name.. The front claws of males are elongated as a mating tool.

The females of the species barely grow larger than the males and reach a length of up to 37,5 centimeters. Older animals discolor with age.

There are no known subspecies of the Florida red-bellied cooter.


The relatively small range of the Florida red-bellied cooter ranges from the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia to the Everglades. This area is quite lush, with open swamps and extensive wetlands. Habitats include slow-flowing waters, as well as marshes and wetlands.


The Florida red-bellied cooter is active all year round and is often seen basking in the sun. They are the most common turtles in the Okefenokee Swamp and in the canals of Florida..

Males reach sexual maturity at three to four years of age., and its plastron then measures between 17 and 21 cm.. Females do not reach sexual maturity until they are five to seven years old, at which time they have a body length of 26 to 27 cm.. They are of 6 to 31 eggs several times a year, The young hatch after 60 to 75 days.

Threats to the species

State of conservation ⓘ

Status Minor Concern ⓘ (UICN)ⓘ

Numerous native mammals, like raccoons, otters and skunks, they are a threat to the grounding. In water, The aligators, snapping turtles and large fish are enemies of hatchlings. However, the thick and tall shells of adults allow them to coexist with common alligators. The shells can't even be cracked for adult alligators.

Trade and maintenance

In 2003, were exported from the United States 5 million ornamental turtles of the genus Pseudemys. Export statistics do not allow a more precise specification by species, but besides the Florida red-bellied cooter, only the common ornamental tortoise and the peninsular ornamental tortoise are exported. Therefore, It can be assumed that many copies of the Florida red-bellied cooter also enters the market as pets or as food. The exporters declared that the majority of the animals came from breeding.

The "Florida red-bellied cooter" in captivity

Florida red-bellied cooter
A photo of a “Florida red-bellied cooter” in a pond in south carolina, EE. UU.


The Florida red-bellied cooter she is a good swimmer and needs an aquaterrarium with enough space to swim, as well as various hiding places and opportunities to rest on the furniture.

They like to sit under lianas and roots in aquariums or cling to them so that only their heads are above the water to breathe. The terrestrial part must be at least twice the length and width of the dorsal shell so that the animal can stretch out and bask there. As a key to the size of the aquaterrarium we recommend calculating with the length of the animal's carapace. The carapace is the dorsal. The size of the terrarium is calculated as follows for non-adult animals:

  • Part of water: Five times the length of the animal's carapace, plus at least twice the length of the shell for the height of the water.
  • Terrestrial part: At least twice the length of the animal's carapace.

Observe the growth of the animal in the coming months (fast-growing animal/slow-growing animal).

as a norm, We recommend aquarium measurements of 200 x 100 x 70 cm. (for 2 Turtles).

Aquaterrarium decoration

The aquaterrarium it should be arranged in such a way that the turtle has enough space to swim, but also enough places to rest or retire. aquarium stones, aquarium roots and lianas are suitable for it. It is important that they are placed in such a way that the turtle cannot collapse them or get trapped. Natural gravel with an average grain size of up to 5 mm.

The terrestrial part it must be built in such a way that the turtle can get to it and get out again without major problems. It must also be built in such a way that it is completely dry, so the tortoise can dry off completely and rest and bask extensively in the heat and ultraviolet light above it.

If females or a pair are kept, the land part must be built in such a way that egg laying is also possible. A digestible substrate is suitable for this, for example a mixture of clayey sand for terrariums such as Exo Terra Stone Desert and a mixture of sand with humus as JBL Terra Basis.

Temperature and lighting

The Florida red-bellied cooter comes from Florida and neighboring states to the north. There they inhabit the largest and smallest lakes, as well as in some rivers.

They need a sunny spot on the land side of their aquaterrarium.. This is created by spot lighting, that provides light, heat and UV rays. The highest quality products are good enough here, because only they are equal to the natural light of the sun. Only an optimal supply of UV-B light provides your animal with enough vitamin D3 for young animals to grow optimally and adult animals to also be in top shape and display their bright colors.. We recommend the JBL L-U-W Light, which is available in different powers and in the version “Desert” or “Jungle“. This type of lighting provides light, heat and UVA/UVB rays.

For uniform lighting of your terrarium as decoration of your living space, we recommend LED lighting across the entire terrarium. Light and heating sources are basically turned on and off at a daily rate using a timer, 14h on, 10h off.

Filter and heater

To heat the part of the water and not take away space for swimming, we recommend an external heater, as the JBL ProTemp e300 or e500. This allows the aquarium water to be heated to an optimum temperature of 25 to 27 degrees.

To filter and clean the water, high performance external filter recommended (at least 4 or 5 times the volume of water circulating per hour). series external filters Cristal Profi e of JBL are ideal for this purpose.


The Florida red-bellied cooter eat up to a 95% of herbivorous foods, that is to say, eat plant foods and a small amount of animal foods. Suitable foods include various aquarium plants, food plants for terrariums like Golliwoog®, lettuce, leaf spinach or pelleted turtle food. Gammarus, smelts, mussel meat, mixture for turtles or mosquito larvae are suitable to provide the small amount of animal protein. However, pet food should only be given once a week.

A general rule of thumb for food quantity is once or twice a day as much food as the size of the turtle's head.
Food is always sprinkled with vitamin and mineral mixes. This is the only way to avoid irreversible deficiencies, which can often cause serious illness and even death in young animals and pregnant females, for example.
It also, there should always be a cuttlefish bone in the water section so that the animals can absorb the calcium for themselves.

Social behavior and reproduction

The Florida red-bellied cooter not considered very aggressive within the species, which means that these turtles can also be kept in pairs or in a group of a male with several females.
The Florida red-bellied cooter does not hibernate with cold, since the temperature in its original habitat is at least 16 – 17 degrees even in winter.
In spring, the Florida red-bellied cooter gets ready to mate. After mating, the female usually lays up 20 eggs in a pit up to 15 cm deep in the terrestrial part. With an incubation period of 60 to 80 days, the pups are born.

Buy one "Florida red-bellied cooter"

The price of a "Florida red-bellied cooter" at the exotic animal market, bred in captivity, ranges between 25 – 60 EUR, depending on its size.

Videos "Florida red-bellied cooter"

Alternative names:

    1. Florida redbelly turtle (English).
    2. Pseudémyde de Nelson (French).
    3. Nelsons Schmuckschildkröte (German).
    4. Cooter de barriga vermelha da Flórida, Tartaruga Pseudemys Nelsoni (Portuguese).
    5. Tortuga Pseudemys nelsoni, Tortuga Laberinto (español).
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