Are Florida Softshell Turtles Dangerous?

Are Florida Softshell Turtles Dangerous

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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I have heard a lot of people saying that the Florida softshell turtles are dangerous. And many of them do not want to pet the species. If you are thinking about buying or adopting a Florida softshell turtle, you must know the pet’s actual behavior. Without the correct information, you may end up hurting yourself.

Florida softshell turtles can be dangerous, depending on the situation. If the pet is under attack or panicked, it will act aggressively. It may bite the predator or the opponent using its sharp beak if it feels insecure.

Can the Florida softshell turtles be good pets? What makes pets dangerous? What can you do when it acts aggressively? You will find out each answer in this article.

Why Are Florida Softshell Turtles Dangerous?

The Florida softshell turtles can be huge. Their length can be between 5.9 to 29.9 inches or 15 to 76 centimeters. Depending on the health, a Florida softshell turtle can be around 10 to 40 lb.

Do you think the Florida softshell turtles are dangerous because of their big size? No. The turtle is considered weird due to its aggressive behavior.

Unlike other turtle species, the shell of the Florida softshell turtle is soft. The flat, soft, and leathery shell sometimes makes the species vulnerable. Predators attack their shells, and the hunters trap the Florida softshell turtle because their meat is delicious. As a result, the species has an in-built sense of self-defense in them.

Whenever the Florida softshell turtle feels stressed or panicked, it attacks the opponent. Even if it feels a little insecure, it will start biting or fighting with its claws. The Florida softshell turtles have horny beaks, sharp claws, and powerful jaws.

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If you pick up or inappropriately hold the Florida softshell turtle, the turtle will get panicked. And it will bite your finger or hand using its long neck. Believe me or not, the Florida softshell turtle’s bite is pretty painful.

In severe cases, blood will come out of the wound, or you may fall sick. Are you wondering if the Florida softshell turtle has teeth or not? No, they do not have any teeth. They use their horny beak for biting and jaws, and claws for the attack.

The Florida softshell turtles also act roughly among each other. If you house more than one male in a single enclosure, they will get into ferocious fights. But in case there is a female Florida softshell in the tank, it will probably act a passive role there.

So, as you can see, the Florida softshell turtles are aggressive in behavior. If you make them feel stressed, they will not think twice before attacking you.

When Do The Florida Softshell Turtles Act Aggressively?

You must be curious to know what makes the Florida softshell turtles act aggressively. Well, there can be many reasons for it. I will try to explain everything to you.

Your Florida softshell turtle can bite or attack you, or be aggressive to you for 5 main reasons. Such as:

  1. If you put your fingers or hand in front of the pet’s mouth, it will bite.
  2. In case you hold or pick up the Florida softshell turtle in a wrong way, the pet will get panicked and attack you.
  3. While feeding the pet, it can mistake your fingers as food and bite them.
  4. When you move your Florida softshell turtle in a new environment, it will take some time to get used to the habitat. Also, the new place can make the pet panicked. So, softshell can act aggressively.
  5. Like other turtle species, the Softshell turtles prefer to live alone. If the tank is in a room where people often come and go, it can stress the pet. As a result, it can be aggressive.
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 As I have said earlier, your pet softshell turtle may not get along with its tank mates. Here are some probable reasons:

  • The tank size is too small for them. The pet softshell turtle is not getting enough space to move.
  • The basking dock or land area is not sufficient for the pets.
  • You are not providing enough food.
  • One Florida softshell turtle is trying to dominate the other ones.

The aggression towards each other can sometimes get ugly and dangerous. If the Florida softshell turtles get involved in fighting, one party will be injured for sure. That is why experts suggest not to raise more than one Florida softshell turtle in a single habitat.

How To Calm Your Florida Softshell Turtles?

If your Florida softshell turtle is always aggressive and stays in a fighting mode, there must be something wrong. You can calm your turtle using some tricks. Here are some tips for you:

  • Do not disturb the Florida softshell turtle. Sometimes guests visit our homes and start irritating the pet turtle. This behavior can stress out the turtle.
  • If you need to pick or hold the pet Florida softshell turtle, follow proper techniques. Holding by its sides is quite dangerous as the pet can kick you using its claws or fall on the ground. Check this article to learn the right way to hold or pick up a Florida softshell turtle.
  • Do not put your fingers in front of the pet intentionally. While feeding the pet with your hand, wear gloves.
  • Place the pet enclosure in a quiet room so that the turtle does not get disturbed or panicked by the presence of too many people.
  • Make sure the habitat is big enough for the Florida softshell turtle to move freely.
  • Never house two males, one male, and one young Florida softshell turtle in the same enclosure. Also, it is better not to put small fishes in the tank. This increases the chance of fighting.
  • Always provide enough food to the pet turtle.
  • If you raise more than one Florida softshell turtle in a single enclosure, build a large basking dock.
  • If you find the Florida softshell turtle panicked or stressed, give it enough time to calm down. Do not try to entertain it.
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Florida Softshell Turtles As Pets

All these aggressive behaviors must make you think that the Florida softshell turtle is not a good pet. But wait, that is not right.

Despite the huge size and aggression, the species can be a pretty good pet. Many experienced turtle owners buy or adopt the Florida softshell turtles to add to their family. These turtles are really good swimmers and can survive in tough conditions.

The Florida softshell turtles have complex needs, and you may need to pay extra attention to them. That is why it is not ideal for beginners. Experts claim that beginners can raise the male Florida softshell turtles without facing any trouble but not the female ones.

Experienced turtle owners prefer Florida softshell turtles because it is challenging to raise them properly. And who does not love adventures, right?


Florida softshell turtles can be dangerous, depending on the situation. If you do not mess with the pet, it will act friendly. Instead of the species’ aggressive behavior, they are quite good as pets.

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About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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