Florida Red Bellied Turtle

Wayne and Gladys Valley Children's Zoo


In the Zoo

Scientific Information

Scientific Name: Pseudemys nelsoni
Class: Reptilia
Order: Chelonia
Family: Emydidae
Genus: Pseudemys




Length: 14.5 inches 14.5 inches
Weight: 4 pounds 8 pounds
Maturity: 5-9 years 5-9 years

Lifestyle and Lifespan

Diet: Omnivorous
Activity Timeframe: Diurnal
Interactivity: Solitary
Sexual Dimorphism: Yes
Gestation: Lays 12 to 30 or more eggs; egg laying peaks in late spring and early summer
Lifespan in the Wild:
Lifespan in Captivity: 25 years

Geographic Range

South through peninsular Florida, and most southern Georgia.


Status in the Wild:
Threats: Habitat Loss


High arched elongated carapace is up to 13 inches in length. Medial keel is lost in adults. Carapace is variable in color, but usually black with red or yellow markings on the marginals and a transverse bar across the front costal scutes. Plastron is reddish orange and may be plain or carry a pattern that fades with age. Head is moderate in size and has a prominent notch at the tip of the upper jaw and a non-protruding snout. Skin is black with yellow stripes. Males have elongated slightly curved foreclaws and long thick tails. Females are slightly larger than males.

Species Specifics

The family Emydidae includes approximately 95 species in 33 genera. Members are distributed throughout North America, northern South America, Europe, northwestern Africa, and Asia. Emydids are primarily freshwater species, though some species inhabit brackish waters or are terrestrial.

Physical Characteristics

This species has a deeper and much heavier shell than its more northern cousins. This may have evolved as being less likely to be cracked by alligators which are only found in the south.



Lives in ponds, lakes, ditches, marches and slow moving streams.



Adults are highly herbivorous, preferring aquatic plants. Also eat carrion.

Ecological Web

This turtle is quite unique as it lives around alligators and with a thick shell they are not a part of the alligators diet.

Activity and Behavior

Activity Pattern

Most of the day is spent basking.


Social Behavior

Reproductive Behavior

More research is needed.


12 eggs each year.




Current Threats

Habitat Loss

Our Role

Oakland Zoo believes that each one of us has the power to become stewards of the natural world, decrease our global footprint and inspire others to do the same. Learn about the conservation initiatives we're pursuing at the Zoo, and find out how you can help.

How You Can Help

Fascinating Facts

Florida Red bellied turtles are confirmed baskers, lying many hours on a sunny day on logs or floating mats of vegetation.





P.O. Box 5238

9777 Golf Links Road Oakland, CA 94605