Home » 10 Turtles That are Found in Florida [The Common Types]

10 Turtles That are Found in Florida [The Common Types]

by Janet
Turtles That are Found in Florida
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Florida is one of the most preferred destinations for both tourists and natives. The sunny weather, diverse population, and delicious food are just some of the reasons why it’s a great place to be. It has many theme parks and attractions and the people there are said to be the nicest people you’ll find in South America.

Aside from people, Florida is also a preferred destination for turtles. About 90% of sea turtles nest along Florida’s beaches. Additionally, Florida has numerous lakes, streams, freshwater springs, and rivers, hence suitable for accommodating a large variety of turtles.

The list below contains some of the common types of turtles you won’t miss when you’re in Florida:

  1. Loggerhead Sea Turtles

sea turtle in florida

Sea turtles are especially popular in Florida, with the Loggerhead turtle being the most common sea turtle found in Florida. It gets its name from its block-like head and is considered the second largest sea turtle in existence. It’s even said to be larger than Galapagos giant tortoises, measuring 3ft in length and approximately 275lbs in weight.

Loggerheads are solely aquatic turtles. They live in water all their life, only females come to shore to nest every 2-3 years. These sea turtles live in saltwater hence you’ll mostly find them in Florida’s Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic beaches. They are also known to be slow swimmers hence a common prey for the sharks but their formidable size limits predation. Although they are listed as endangered species in Florida and are protected by the state’s laws.

  1. Leatherback Sea Turtle

leatherback turtle florida

This unique sea turtle gets its name from its leather-like, rubbery, flexible, ink-blue shell. Given its leathery texture, the shell is barely visible but has several ridges running down the back. It is considered the largest sea turtle to ever exist, measuring 7ft in length and 2000+ pounds in weight. Despite their size, they are great divers and can dive up to 2,400ft and stay there for 85 minutes at a time. This is possible because they can maintain warm body temperatures even in cold waters.

They live in water all their lives, only females come to shore to nest. They prefer living in tropical and temperate marine waters. You’ll mostly find them on the east coast of Florida with 50% of them nesting in Palm Beach County. Of all sea turtles, they migrate the most and are also considered highly endangered by Florida’s state laws.

  1. Green Sea Turtle

green sea turtle in florida

Another endangered turtle species found in Florida is the Green sea turtle. It is named green after its green skin and fat. While the smooth heart-shaped shell is mostly colored olive-green to brown, some are darker and almost black. They are among the largest sea turtles being 5ft long and weight 700lbs.

Green sea turtles, unlike Loggerheads, are graceful swimmers with paddle-like flippers. While they are aquatic turtles, they are known to bask in shallow waters to warm their bodies. They prefer tropical and subtropical coastal water and are mainly found in the western Atlantic beaches in Florida.

  1. Florida Soft Shell Turtle

florida soft shell turtle

These soft-shell turtles are native to the southeastern part of the US and as per their name, commonly found in Florida. They are considerably large turtles with flat pancake-like shells that are 12-24″ in length with the females double the size of the males. They have smooth skin-covered shells with slight bumps. They’re also considered highly aggressive and are known to emit a foul smell in the presence of a predator.

Florida soft-shells are considered aquatic although you can find them basking on land. Their slightly webbed feet, make it easier to move fast both on land and in water. Unlike most turtles, they are carnivorous and considered scavengers. They prefer fresh water, so you may spot them all over Florida around lakes, streams, or canals.

  1. Common Snapping Turtle

Turtles That are Found in Florida

The Common Snapping turtle is a relatively large turtle measuring approximately 19.3″ in length and weighing 751lbs. It is identified by its elongated neck and rough keeled shell and tail. Their large size doesn’t allow them to retract into their shells for protection. They do however have strings snapping jaws for defense. Therefore, these turtles tend viciously snapping when approached, hence their name. Common snapping turtles are especially vicious when on land but extremely docile when placed in water.

They’re semi-aquatic although considered mostly aquatic. These snapping turtles rarely busk in the sun, but they are capable of crossing long distances on land. Being freshwater turtles, you’ll mostly find them west of the Suwannee River that runs into Florida. You may spot them in small creeks, swamps, wet pine flatwood areas, and floodplains. The common snapping turtles are also considered commercially beneficial. They are commercially harvested for their meat.

  1. Alligator Snapping Turtle

florida turtles

Among the largest freshwater turtles, the Alligator Snapping Turtle measures 26″ in length and 175-230lbs in weight. They are referred to as the dinosaurs of turtles given their beak-like jaws, spiked shell, and long thick scaled tails. They are carnivorous, mainly feeding on fish and frogs, thanks to their tongues that are designed to look like worm bait to lure the prey.

Alligator snapping turtles are considered to be mostly aquatic since they stay for long periods submerged and motionless in the water. They do, however, occasionally come to land to nest. In Florida, you’ll find them in backwater swamps, rivers, or lakes.  Sometimes, you may spot them in brackish water systems.

  1. Barbour’s Map Turtle

species of turtles in florida

The Barbour’s map turtles are considered the rarest and largest map turtles found only in the South East of the US. You can identify them by the intricate markings on their olive green or brown, spiked high-domed shell. They also have large heads for breaking the mollusks that make a large part of their diet aside from insects.

These map turtles are considered to be great swimmers and unlike other freshwater turtles, they prefer deeper and faster flowing water. They are mostly aquatic living mostly in clear freshwater systems with limestone bottoms. That’s why they’re mostly found in Florida’s river systems.

  1. Eastern Mud Turtle

mud turtle in florida

The eastern mud turtle is also called the common mud turtle. Like other mud turtles, their name is derived from the fact that they prefer muddy habitats. They are small and measure up to 4.7″ in length. Unlike other turtles, these map turtles can be found hibernating during summer under vegetation in woodlands. Otherwise, they are considered mostly aquatic.

They prefer still or non-flowing water near heavily vegetated areas. In Florida, you’ll mostly find them still waters like small ponds, swamps, wet ditches, or still water bodies near a lot of vegetation. Fortunately, they aren’t considered endangered in the state of Florida.

  1. Florida Box Turtle

Turtles That are Found in Florida

The Florida box turtles are relatively small, measuring 4-6” in size. Unlike other turtles, they do not hibernate in winter but they do become less active. They are identified by their yellow markings and sharp claws that make them great climbers. The males have red or orange eyes, unlike females who have brown or dark eyes.

The Florida box turtles prefer highly humid areas, and you’ll mostly find them living in swamps or forests. They are considered to be semi-aquatic although mostly terrestrial. They rarely swim but love to lie in water. You’ll find them mostly in various parts of Florida but they can sometimes migrate as far as South Georgia.

  1. Gopher Tortoise

florida turtle species

These moderately large tortoises measure 9-15″ in length. Like all tortoises, they have stubby hind feet, but their front limbs are flattened and shovel-like. The adult’s shells are brown or grey, but the younger ones are yellow or orange, although it fades with age.

These tortoises are known to dig burrows for shelter and food, hence prefer well-drained sandy soils in pine sandhills, oak hammocks, pine flat woods, or coastal dunes. You’ll find them in parts of all the counties in Florida. They are also listed as highly endangered species in the state of Florida, and the law protects a large number of their burrows.


These are just a list of the common types of turtles you’ll most likely see on your visit to Florida. There are many more types including Hawkbill sea turtles, Spiny softshell turtle, Spotted turtle, Diamondback terrapin, Common slider, and Coastal Plain Cooter among others. Because the majority of the turtles hosted in Florida are endangered, there are several laws put in place by the state to protect and preserve their existence.



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