FLORIDA MANATEE } Trichechus manatus latirostrus
DESCRIPTION: The Florida manatee is a massive gray marine mammal with pronounced front flippers and a broad, paddle-shaped tail. Individuals average 10 feet in length and 1,000 pounds in weight but can be as long as 15 feet and weigh more than 3,000 pounds. Thick layers of blubber under their wrinkly skin are used for insulation and to increase buoyancy. Manatees will occasionally sport algae growths as they are slow moving enough to allow the plants to take hold.
BREEDING: Females average one calf every two to five years and usually begin breeding successfully between the ages of seven and nine. Gestation lasts from 12 to 14 months, and the mother and calf will remain together for up to two years. Manatees will breed year round whenever conditions are favorable.
LIFE CYCLE: Manatees may live to be 60 years or older.
FEEDING: Manatees graze on sea grass and other vegetation. They need to eat between 20 to 66 lbs of grasses and plant leaves daily
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