The Florida Mud Turtle is one of many varieties of Mud Turtles that are found throughout the United States, Central America, South America and Mexico. These relatively small turtles can live up to 50 years and typically inhabit lakes and streams that are heavily vegetated. They prefer clearer waters with a muddy bottom so that they can burrow into the soft mud and hibernate when the time is right. Mud turtles have one or two hinges on their plastron, allowing them to tightly close their shell for ultimate protection. As if the physical protection isn't enough, Mud Turtles have glands on the sides of their bodies that emit a foul smelling liquid when they are stressed or threatened by predators. The diet of the Mud turtle consists of snails, insects, fish, worms and dark leafy plants.

Chris Lechowicz, SCCF Land Manager and Herpetologist, oversees several reptiles on display and the SCCF Education center, one of which is a small Florida Mud Turtle found here at The Sanctuary several years ago. The Mud Turtle photographed for this week's Sweet Shot was found here at The Sanctuary and was the first adult Florida mud turtle to be found in over 20 years on the island. Golf course lakes provide great conditions for these turtles and all types of wildlife year-round.

Keep your eyes out along the waters edge for this and other varieties of Mud Turtles that call Sanibel and Captiva home.