Wild Fact #94 – Born In The USA – Red-Bellied Cooter
Cool Facts About The Red-Bellied Cooter
- The Red-Bellied Cooter is a large, basking turtle that can only be found in the United States, specifically from the coastal areas of New Jersey all the way into North Carolina
- It is believed that these turtles will occasionally bury their eggs in a very dangerous spot…an alligator nest. I guess this is one way to ensure your eggs are protected from predators, until they hatch that is
- The Red-Bellied Cooter gets their name from the red colouration on their plastron (fancy word for … yup, you guessed it, belly)
A Turtle’s Best Friend…Is An Alligator?!?
So what makes this turtle so interesting? Well, yeah, obviously the whole sneaky egg laying in an alligators nest thing but I haven’t seen very many reports of this so it might be best not to believe this “fact” just yet. I mean, after all, how would the turtles get the eggs under the nest and what would the hatched turtles do when it was time to head to the water, sneak out the back door? Let’s just hope more information about this possible behaviour surfaces soon. In the meantime let’s learn a little more about our large turtle for the States.
A Dirty Turtle
These turtles typically grow to be about a foot long and as mentioned have a red belly, so they are pretty tough to miss in the wild. If you do want to catch a glimpse of them then you will need to head to a large lake, pond, stream, creek or river, so pretty much anywhere that there is a lot of water. More specifically they prefer brackish water – you know that dirty, muddy looking water that you wouldn’t want to go swimming in…yeah, the Red-Bellied Cooter loves that stuff and if it is overloaded with aquatic vegetation then it is even better for these turtles. If they are not playing around in the muddy water then they are probably sunning themselves on a nice large log so keep your eyes peeled.
Food For Thought
Once they are finished suntanning for the day, these turtles will typically go on the hunt for some tasty prey. What do these snacks look like? Well, these turtles will eat a variety of things, being herbivores and all, including tadpoles, snails, crayfish, insects, plants and of course my favourite mid-afternoon snack, worms (I am just kidding, I really don’t like eating worms in the afternoon as it is more of morning dish). While out hunting, they have to be on the lookout for a number of hungry predators including herons, raccoons, skunks and even bullfrogs (they don’t eat the adult turtles though).