kids encyclopedia robot

Florida red-bellied cooter facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Florida red-bellied cooter
Florida Redbelly Turtle.jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
  • ? Deirochelys floridana
    O.P. Hay, 1908
  • ? Trachemys jarmani
    O.P. Hay, 1908
  • Pseudemys nelsoni
    Carr, 1938
  • Pseudemys rubriventris nelsoni
    — Mertens, 1951
  • Chrysemys (Pseudemys) nelsoni
    — McDowell, 1964
  • Chrysemys rubriventris nelsoni
    — Obst, 1983

The Florida red-bellied cooter or Florida redbelly turtle (Pseudemys nelsoni) is a species of turtle in the family Emydidae.


The specific name, nelsoni, is in honor of American biologist George Nelson (born 1873).

Geographic range

P. nelsoni is endemic to Florida, and southern Georgia.


The Florida redbelly cooter is mainly herbivorous, and can be found in nearly any type of aquatic habitat. It reaches particularly high densities in spring runs, and occasionally can be found in brackish water. This species is active year-round and spends a large portion of the day basking on logs. They are noted for sometimes laying their eggs in the nest mounds of alligators. The Florida redbelly is closely related to the Peninsula cooter (Pseudemys floridana) and can often be found basking on logs together.


The Florida redbelly can be distinguished from other similar turtles by its distinctive red-tinged plastron (belly) and two cusps (like teeth) on its upper beak. Like most Pseudemys turtles, this species is a fairly large river turtle. Carapace length in mature turtles can range from 20.3 to 37.5 cm (8.0 to 14.8 in). Females, which average 30.5 cm (12.0 in) in carapace length and weigh 4 kg (8.8 lb), are noticeably larger than males, which are around 25 cm (9.8 in) and 1.8 kg (4.0 lb) in mass.


Florida redbellies are commonly exported for consumption and the pet trade, with about 50% wild caught individuals and 50% captive bred.

Most of US export statistics (as collected by the World Chelonian Trust in 2002-2005) simply describe exported turtles by the genus, Pseudemys, without identifying the species. They are exported by the million, and are mostly farm-raised.

Florida Redbelly Turtle (Pseudemys nelsoni)
Female cooter basking
  • Carr AF (1938). "Pseudemys nelsoni, a New Turtle from Florida". Occ. Pap. Boston Soc. Nat. Hist. 8: 305-310. (Pseudemys nelsoni, new species).
  • Ernst CH, Barbour RW, Lovich JE (1994). Turtles of the United States and Canada. Washington, District of Columbia: Smithsonian Institution Press.
  • Hubbs C (1995). "Springs and Spring Runs as Unique Aquatic Systems". Copeia 1995 (4): 989-991.
  • Reed RN, Gibbons JW (2004). "Conservation status of live U.S. nonmarine turtles in domestic and international trade" – a report to: U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Aiken, South Carolina, Savannah River Ecology Lab: 1-92.
kids search engine
Florida red-bellied cooter Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.