Red Bellied Cooters and NMLC


At The National Marine Life Center, we get to take part in a program during the Winter months called the Head Start Program! During this program, we receive a set amount of turtles to fast track three years worth of growth in just a few months. This may not seem exciting, but the species of turtle we receive is an endangered species, so this program gets schools and other groups to help save a species that would otherwise become extinct. 

Red Bellied Cooters are a species of basking turtle. This means you will find them in and around ponds either swimming or sitting on a rock or log to soak up the sun. They are most commonly found on the east coast and you will not find them much further south than Florida. Theses turtles will only get up to 10 to 12 inches in length and can weigh up to 10 pounds. While they stay with us, they will generally grow up to around six inches in length, which is very large in a fairly short time period. This program changes the turtles chances of survival from 10% to up to a 90% chance of survival! Through the Head Start Program, populations of these turtles have raised from just 300 to upwards of 3,000 turtles!


Posted by Ginny S
Ginny is a 2018 summer Animal Care intern at the National Marine Life Center. Ginny is a student at Unity College studying Captive Wildlife Care and Education along with Parks and Forest Resources.