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eastern mud turtle

(Kinosternon subrubrum subrubrum)


This is a small, flattened, oval turtle whose back edge is nearly perpendicular. The head is large and irregularly streaked, spotted, or marbled with light colors. The plastron (lower shell) is relatively large with 2 obvious hinges (hinges are not developed in young). The carapace (upper shell) length is from 3-5 inches long, smooth and light brown to almost black in color. In the young turtle, the carapace is rougher and black or very dark brown, and each marginal scale bears a light spot. The male has a longer tail with prominent claw at the tip and two small horny patches on the inner surface of each hind leg. The eggs are white, oval, variable in size, and have a thick, hard, and brittle shell. The shell surface is covered with fine irregular network of impressed lines. The eggs do not take up water as most turtle eggs do. The breeding season is April to May, and egg laying starts soon thereafter. The clutch size is 2 to 5 eggs. This is a bottom crawler but is also a good swimmer.


This turtle is found in a variety of aquatic habitats, including ponds, lakes, creeks, swamps, freshwater and brackish marshes, ditches, and boggy areas. It prefers shallow, slow water areas with submergent and emergent vegetation that has a soft organic bottom. This turtle overwinters on land in a burrow in soft substrate, such as an existing muskrat burrow.


Eastern mud turtles are omnivores. They will eat crayfish, insects, crustaceans, mollusks, amphibians, carrion, and aquatic vegetation.


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