Scientific Name: Sternotherus minor peltifer
Classification: Reptilia, Order Testudines, Family Kinosternidae
- Species of Greatest Conservation Need-Tier 4a on the Virginia Wildlife Action Plan
Size: Up to 5.25 inches in length
Habitat: Occurs in the Clinch, Holston and Powell watersheds in Lee, Scott, Russell, Washington and Smyth counties. A soft sediment bottom is characteristic of their habitat and they are usually found around submerged logs and fallen trees
Distribution: In Virginia, this species is known only from the Clinch, Holston, and Powell Rivers and their tributaries in Lee and Scott Counties. This is a completely aquatic turtle that is restricted to rivers and their tributaries. This turtle occurs commonly around snags and fallen trees and prefers a soft substrate. Overwintering occurs under banks and in muskrat burrows.
This is a small aquatic turtle reaching a maximum carapace (upper shell) length of about 5 inches. The carapace is strongly arched, brown to olive brown, and may have small, nondistinct black spots. The skin is brown to gray-brown with gray to yellow mottling on legs. It has a large head with black speckling on the top and a pair of barbels on the chin. The throat has alternating yellowish and black to dark brown stripes. The juvenile is similar to the adult in pattern but has a single pronounced keel on the carapace. This turtle is a bottom walker and seldom basks. It can spend long periods submerged in water due to its ability to absorb oxygen from the water through the lining of the mouth and throat.
Last updated: November 20, 2023
The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources Species Profile Database serves as a repository of information for Virginia’s fish and wildlife species. The database is managed and curated by the Wildlife Information and Environmental Services (WIES) program. Species profile data, distribution information, and photography is generated by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, State and Federal agencies, Collection Permittees, and other trusted partners. This product is not suitable for legal, engineering, or surveying use. The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources does not accept responsibility for any missing data, inaccuracies, or other errors which may exist. In accordance with the terms of service for this product, you agree to this disclaimer.