They can be found in areas with varying levels of vegetation, and although they are generally found in more slow-moving waters, this species can be found in fast-moving waters than other, less-aquatic species of turtles. Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio After paddling a kayak through parts of the Cass River, the Shiawassee, and the Tittabawassee you can get a good view of Greenpoint at … Sandy environments are important for nesting sites, proper juvenile growth and development, and camouflage. Smooth softshell turtles are medium or large turtles that live in freshwater. They inhabit shallow water (less than 1 m deep), but can also be found as far as 10 m deep. [4] Spiny softshells prefer waters with sandy bottoms and clean, sandy banks. Harding, J.H. In the case of younger individuals well defined round spots can be observed on the shell, in the case of adults those spots are not very visible. Spiny softshells can be found in large rivers, lakes and reservoirs, especially those with muddy or sandy bottoms. She can lay between 9 and 38 round, calcareous-shelled eggs. Spotted turtle occurrence map. Males and young turtles have an olive or grayish-tan upper shell with small black dots and circles and a black line along the margin. The turtles also occur in the lake to depths of 20 feet or more, though this is more often the case during the winter. Female spiny softshell turtles lay their clutches along a sunny sandbar or gravel bank in a cavity that they dig close to water as quickly as possible (usually within an hour). Head, neck, and legs tan or olive above and speckled or mottled with black. Softshells come out of the water in sheltered places and bask in the sun for hour… 1912. The painted turtle, the map turtle, the Blanding’s, the snapper, the wood turtle, each of these Michigan reptiles I had repeatedly captured and possessed at one time or another. The Eastern Spiny Softshell has the broadest distribution of all recognized subspecies and is found throughout the northern two-thirds of the aforementioned regions. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Michigan: A Quaternary and Recent Faunal Adventure. Frequently bask on river banks and logs, but flee quickly if disturbed. A large female turtle may live up to 50 years. ... University of Michigan (510):1-19: Females have a … [3] This is caused by loss of keratinized scutes and some bony tissue loss. The colors usually range from olive-gray to yellow-brown. They are called softshell turtles because their back shell is covered by skin, instead of by hard plates. There are two subfamilies, and thirteen different genuses, of softshell turtles. The eastern spiny softshell has small bumps or spines on the front of the upper shell and a small ridge on each side of the snout. Lansing, Mich., Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford, State Printers. They may burrow into the sand under shallow water for a long period of time. Softshell Turtle eggs are spherical like Snapping Turtle eggs, but are smaller and have a less rigid shell. Spiny softshell turtles feed on a variety of food items. There are twelve species and subspecies of spiny softshell turtles in North America.3 Today there is a large population of A. s. hartwegi in the Missouri River basin in Montana. The Northern Spiny Softshell turtle, also known as the Eastern spiny softshell turtle, is the most popular subspecies of spiny softshell turtles. Spiny softshell turtles are more dependent on underwater respiration than other freshwater species. The namesake spines are found along the anterior border of the carapace and are more commonly found in males. 2012. Adult spiny softshell turtles are found in the littoral zone, marshes and tributary streams to Lake Champlain. Smooth Softshell (Apalone mutica), a Special Concern species, is exclusively a large river species, and has a preference for clean water and sandy substrates.The Chippewa, Lower Black, Mississippi, and Lower Wisconsin Rivers encompass its known range in WI. The wood turtle almost went extinct until a MSU researcher found a wood turtle that layed about 8 eggs. Spiny softshell turtles also have pale lines bordered by black lines running from its head down the side of its neck. The edges of the carapace are pliable with small spines (males have more than females). Unlike smooth softshells, spiny softshells are often aggressive when seized, and can inflict painful bites. They commonly consume insects, crayfish, fish, algal stocks and other plant material, and mussels. A variety of factors allow for these turtles to perform respiration underwater. The eggs are laid around July and September, and they hatch in the spring. The Michigan Herp Atlas began in 2004 in an effort to collect observational data about … [5] Plastron white or pale yellow with underlying bones visible as gray patches. Another distinguishing feature of softshell turtles is the presence of a fleshy, elongated nose. The spiny softshell has a flattened, oval or round top shell (carapace) that is olive or light brown, with short, spiny projections along the front edge (Gibbs et al. They are generally observed as benthic feeders; they can either actively hunt prey or bury themselves in the sand and wait to ambush prey. Spiny softshell turtles reach adulthood between the ages of 8 to 10 years old. You can click that link for the list of all of them and read on to learn about the soft shell turtle. The common name, spiny softshell, refers to the spiny, cone-like projections on the leading edge of the turtle's carapace, which are not scutes (scales). They are olive to gray or tan with black speckles and a yellow border on the carapace and a pale or yellowish plastron. Both species of softshell turtle in Kansas are capable of remaining submerged for long periods of time due to the ability to remove oxygen from the water through membranes in the mouth. Michigan Turtles and Lizards. The spotted turtle is threatened in Michigan. Both the common name, spiny softshell, and the specific name, spinifera (spine-bearing), refer to the spiny, cone-like projections on the leading edge of the carapace, which are not scutes (scales). other species to the, Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region by Jim Harding. Coloration also varies between each subspecies, and the exact coloration can also depend on an individual turtle's environment. Of these, nine are native to Michigan, with the red-eared slider introduced from pet releases (Harding 1997). Bartholomew, P. 2002. 1.2 – 1.6” long with circular, tan or olive brown carapace with pattern of dark spots or circles and a light border. Barko, V., J. Briggler. This turtle has a long neck, and its snout resembles a snorkel. The northern spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera spinifera) is a subspecies of soft-shelled turtle in the family Trionychidae. The carapace (the upper part of the shell) ranges from brown or yellow-brown to olive in color, while the plastron (lower part of the shell) is lighter, usually white or yellow. Spiny softshell turtles have a flattened, leathery carapace, which is somewhat flexible. The spiny softshell can be found in bodies of fresh water including ponds, lakes, rivers, tributaries, and streams. Overview Overview. Basking spots and sandy nesting areas are important components of suitable habitat. The Spiny softshell turtle is one of the largest freshwater turtle species in North America. Size: 5 – 18.9” (adult carapace length) The turtle nests more than once during a single season. Midland smooth softshell (Apalone mutica) and spiny softshell (Apalone spinifera) turtles in the middle Mississippi River: Habitat associations, population structure, and implications for conservation. Ruthven, A. G., H. B. T. Gaige, et al. Both the common name, spiny softshell, and the specific name, spinifera (spine-bearing), refer to the spiny, cone-like projections on the leading edge of the carapace, which are not scutes (scales). Short, often inconspicuous spines present at front of carapace. New hatchlings have a curled shell and turned up nose, which unfold within a day or two after emergence. [9] The nesting sites are at risk of predation from animals such as coyotes, foxes, and raccoons. Both carapace and plastron lack scutes and are soft and rubbery with flexible edges. Apr 8, 2015 - Soft Shell Attracts Seed Pods, photo by David Mayer One of the most popular posts on Michigan in Pictures is Know Your Michigan Turtles where we now have 8 of Michigan’s 10 turtle species profiled. Nearly extirpated from western Lake Ontario, were reportedly common just a few decades ago. The reason they almost went extinct was the raccoons ate most of the eggs so he took the eggs to a … Adult females of the various subspecies, which grow larger than males, are not easily distinguishable from one another, and sometimes can only be assigned to a particular subspecies based on geography.[8]. Scientific Name: Apalone spinifera spinifera All four feet fully webbed. The spiny softshell turtle's scientific name is very descriptive of the animal. Crystal Thompson and Helen Thompson; Memoranda towards a bibliography of the archaeology of Michigan, by Harlan I. Smith; prepared under the direction of Alexander G. Ruthven. [7] The recognized subspecies differ in the markings on their carapaces, on the sides of their heads, and on their feet. Detroit, Mich., Wayne State University Press. Open habitats with little aquatic vegetation favored over those with dense vegetation. Feet often streaked or mottled with yellow and black. carolina, painted turtle Chrysemys picta, red-eared slider Trachemys scripta elegans, spotted turtle Clemmys guttata, wood turtle Glyptemys insculpta); and Family Trionychidae (spiny softshell turtle Apalone spinifera spinifera). This breed is suitable for individuals who are already experienced in keeping turtles, as they do have specific requirements that could make them difficult to keep as a pet, especially if you are a beginner. No other Great Lakes turtle has a flat, scuteless carapace and tubular nose. Spotted turtle. 2007). Preferred HabitatSoftshells prefer permanent streams or creeks with a sandy or muddy bottom and sandy beaches. 1990. J. 2006. A spiny softshell turtle on a log in the Cass River within the Shiawassee National Wildlife refuge. Six subspecies of A. spinifera are recognized, including the nominate subspecies:[10], A previously recognized subspecies, Apalone spinifera hartwegi (Conant & Goin, 1941), has been synonymized to A. s. spinifera as of 2011. The turtles mate in mid-to-late spring in deep water. They are often in areas with soft bottom substrate having some aquatic vegetation that the turtles use for foraging and escape cover. Softshell Turtle eggs are spherical like Snapping Turtle eggs, but are smaller and have a less rigid shell. The male will nudge the female's head while swimming, and if she chooses to mate, the male will swim above the female without clasping her with his claws (unlike other turtles). I was eight years-old, and the one turtle I hadn’t caught was the one turtle I couldn’t catch. Shell color varies with age and sex. Notes on the courtship and mating behavior of the softshell turtle, Trionyx muticus (Reptilia, Testudines, Trionychidae). Only the Eastern Spiny Softshell, A. s. spinifera is found in Illinois. They mate in mid to late spring in deep water. The wood turtle is a species of special concern in Michigan. Unlike most other turtles, their shell is soft, flat, and rubbery. The shell is shaped like an oval, and doesn't have spines on the front edge. The carapace length ranges from 18-54 cm, with females growing larger than males. Adult Characteristics: Hatchlings usually have dark spots on the carapace, but as females age, they frequently become darker in color, or their carapace becomes splotched. Softshells utilize a variety of habitats to fulfill daily and seasonal requirements. Spiny softshells migrate between warm and cold seasons. The herpetology of Michigan, by Alexander B. Ruthven. A few months later, the female turtle quickly lays her eggs along a sunny sandbar or gravel bank in a flask-shaped cavity she has dug close to the water. A large female turtle may live up to 50 years. 96 pp. Males tend to maintain the same coloration pattern from birth. This has led to their low tolerance of hypoxic waters; this becomes especially important during times of hibernation, when these turtles must choose hibernacula that are unlikely to become hypoxic. 7th Annual Reptile Symposium on Captive Reproduction & Husbandry, Dallas, TX, p. 54-58. Smooth, flat, oval or round carapace and long piglike snout. The spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera) is a species of softshell turtle, one of the largest freshwater turtle species in North America. Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) Huge, up to 20 inches long adult carapace. Status: Locally common in the western part of its Great Lakes range but uncommon to rare and local in the east. The Spiny… Usually with two black-bordered yellowish stripes on each side of the head behind eye and jaw. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Press. Spiny softshell occurrence map. The eastern subspecies is Apalone spinifera spinifera (Le Sueur, 1827). The Spiny Softshell Turtle becomes sexually mature between ages 8 and 10. Species Confused With: These markings, which are distinct as hatchlings, fade as the turtles grow larger. Females are much larger than males (9.4 – 18.9” vs. 5 – 9.4” carapace length). Apalone spinifera occupies areas from central-eastern U.S. (western New York and southern Carolina) to Wisconsin and from Minnesota and southern Ontario as far south as Mexico. Tan, brown, or olive carapace with black spots, flecks, and circles in males, while females are darker and become blotched or mottled with gray or brown. Adult Coloration: [1], A rough-draft assembly of the A. spinifera aspera genome was completed in 2013 by the Genome Institute at Washington University - St. Louis. Holman, J. Spiny softshells begin mating between ages 8 and 10. This species is active from April through September and overwinters by burrowing in sandy substrate in … Habitat: Rivers and larger streams, inland lakes, reservoirs, and even protected bays and river mouth areas in Great Lakes. Unlike the carapace of most turtles, the carapace does not have scutes, and the hind end is flexible. Smith (1961) considered Illinois populations to be mainly A. s. spinifera, but noted the influence of Western Spiny Softshell, A. Some special aspects of the husbandry of soft-shell turtles (Reptilia, Testudinae, Trionichidae) at the Moscow Zoo. A. spinifera turtles are bimodal breathers, meaning they have the ability (to some degree) to perform oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange by breathing air or while breathing underwater. Chelonian Conservation and Biology, 5: 225-231. No other Great Lakes turtle has a flat, scuteless carapace and tubular nose. "Spiny softshell turtle" (On-line). 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