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 Spiny Softshell Turtle (Apalone spinifera)

Spiny Softshell Turtle | Apalone spinifera photo
Spiny Softshell Turtle
Photograph by LA Dawson. Some rights reserved.  (view image details)

The Spiny Softshell Turtle is one of the largest freshwater turtles in North America. It has small flexible cone-shaped spines on the edge of the carapace. Spiny Softshell Turtles have soft, smooth rounded carapaces without scutes. The snout is long, pointed and upturned at the end. It has two yellow striped with black borders along the neck. The underside (plastron) is whitish or yellow. They have claws and webbed feet for swimming. The body is olive or tan with black speckles and a dark rim around the edge of their carapace. Some have whitish spots on the carapace. Juvenile turtles are olive and yellow with black spots. Males are smaller than females and have longer and thicker tails. The carapace of females darkens with age and becomes a mottled gray, males retain the juvenile colors longer.

Length: males 12.7cm - 24cm; females 24cm - 48cm

freshwater in rivers, lakes, marshes, ponds, bays of the Great Lakes. Prefers open habitats with a some vegetation and a sandy or muddy bottom.

aquatic insects, crayfish, and sometimes small fish. They forage for food under objects, on bottom of river or lake, and in aquatic vegetation.

The Spiny Softshell Turtle lays 9 - 38 eggs in a flask-shaped cavity dug near the water on a sunny sandbar or gravel bank The sex of the hatchlings is not determined by temperature. A large female turtle may live to 50 years.

The Spiny Softshell Turtle is found throughout much of the United States, as well as Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Also found in the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Coahuila, Chihuahua, Baja California and Morelos.

Common Name:Spiny Softshell Turtle

Relatives in same Genus
  Florida Softshell (A. ferox)

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