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Sand and Sea
Florida Softshell Turtle (Trionyx ferox)
I nearly stumbled over this large female softshell turtle earlier today while trekking through Paynes Prairie. Male softshell turtles, which are quite a bit smaller, are rarely (if ever) seen out of the water in the wild, and about the only time you'll see a female softshell turtle out of water is when she is laying eggs - which is what this specimen is doing.
This photograph doesn't show just how overgrown with vegetation the ground here is, but rest assured it is filled with intertwined roots, making the task of digging a hole for egg laying extremely difficult. Making matters worse was the ambient temperature (92 degrees - Fahrenheit). This female was huffing and puffing while she toiled in the sun. She was clearly spooked by my arrival at this rather delicate time, so I only stayed long enough to take a few photos.
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