We present data on large Chelydra serpentina (Snapping Turtle) from 4 freshwater springs in Florida located in Wekiwa Springs, Volusia Blue Spring, Peacock Springs, and Manatee Springs state parks. Several of the turtles captured at Wekiwa Springs and Volusia Blue Springs are larger than the previous Florida record for this species. In the past, Snapping Turtles in Florida have been considered a distinct species or a clearly defined subspecies, however, recent genetic techniques have shown that they are not well-differentiated evolutionary lineages, and therefore Snapping Turtles in Florida are not unique from those in the rest of the range. These large southern individuals do not follow the expected trend of decreasing size with decreasing latitude. The nature of spring environments, particularly the warm, constant temperatures which facilitate year-round growth appears to be producing record-sized Snapping Turtles in Florida when compared to other Florida localities. Additional studies should investigate the chelonian communities in Florida's spring habitats to determine if these special environments are producing unique populations.
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Vol. 15 • No. 2