I'd never heard one hiss that loud and that long and the fact that I almost stepped on this huge turtle didn't help. This place is known for a nice population of the endangered turtles. Their preferred habitat of sandy, palmetto/pine flatwoods is perpetually under attack which almost always ends up as a cookie cutter housing development.
They love to dig 5-10 foot deep burrows in the ground where they spend much of their time.
The rest is spent foraging for grasses, berries and the occasional flower or dead animal if it's rotten enough. They can't exactly chase it down and kill it.
Although they are on the Endangered Species List, they will most likely be removed soon along with Wood Storks and Manatee. This is not because their populations are increasing since each is suffering the opposite. Instead, the Bush Administration argues that the Endangered Species Act has not provided each species with sufficient protection and therefore should be downgraded to threatened to which they also argue offers the same protection. Confused? It's like removing a "School Zone" because cars aren't slowing down anyway. Basically developers will not have to concern themselves with hissing turtles and nesting birds and boaters can go back to speeding through the gulf.
So every tortoise I see is exciting and through my and MaLe's adventures we've seen a few.
(Kids - don't do this) This in on the Florida Turnpike. Speed limit 70 MPH. We passed it and I realized it was a tortoise. By the time we slowed and backed up an 18-wheeler had hit it.
This one chose a back road in Punta Gorda and enjoyed a better fate. I stopped and made sure he made it before I let anyone pass.On my way out of the preserve today - I spooked a Marsh Rabbit who bolted into the palmettos. I didn't scream.