Eastern Mud Turtle

Eastern mud turtles, also called the common mud turtles, are a species of turtle endemic to the United States. They are one of the smallest turtles in the world.

Eastern Mud Turtle Scientific Classification

Animalia
Chordata
Reptilia
Testudines
Kinosternidae
Kinosternon
Kinosternon subrubrum

Table Of Content

Scientific Classification

Eastern Mud Turtle

Animalia
Chordata
Reptilia
Testudines
Kinosternidae
Kinosternon
Kinosternon subrubrum

Eastern Mud Turtle

Physical Description

Size: Carapace length of this turtle is around 3-4 inches (7.6-10.2 cm).

Weight: They weigh about 3.1-9.3 ounces (88-263 g).

Color: Yellowish to black carapace, with no patterns and keels. The plastron is double hinged and relatively large, yellowish to brown with a dark pattern. Eyes have clouded-dark yellow irises, throat and chin are grayish-yellow streaked with brown, while the appendages and tail are grey.

Distribution

One can find the eastern mud turtles in the states of New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Georgia, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Virginia, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Delaware Tennessee, and Texas.

Subspecies

  • Kinosternon subrubrum subrubrum is the nominate subspecies, also called eastern mud turtle.
  • K. s. hippocrepis or the Mississippi mud turtle.

Habitat

They can be seen living in shallow, slow-moving freshwater habitats, including ponds.

Eastern Mud Turtle Images

Eastern Mud Turtle Size

Behavior

  • Eastern mud turtles are most active at night.
  • They frequent land during dawn and dusk, sometimes basking in the sun.
  • During the colder months, they hibernate in holes dug at the edges of water bodies, and sometimes even further inland. During periods of dry, hot summers, eastern mud turtles bury themselves in mud and stay there until the weather conditions improve.

Mating & Reproduction

Eastern mud turtles have their mating season between March and May. Nesting soon follows, particularly after there is a shower of rain. The female lays 2-5 eggs, though the clutch size may vary from 1 egg up to 8 eggs. Incubation takes around 80-90 days.

Life-cycle

Hatchlings that measure the same as thumbnails are born at the end of the incubation period. They reach sexual maturity at around 4-7 years of age and a carapace length of 2.8-3.1 inches.

Eastern Mud Turtle Baby

Eastern Mud Turtle Photos

Lifespan

They survive in the wild for around 30 years but can live for up to 50 years.

Diet

Small fish and insects, both aquatic and terrestrial, make up the majority of the eastern mud turtle’s diet. It also eats mollusks, carrion, and vegetation, making it an omnivore.

Adaptations

  • Its specially adapted respiratory system allows it to breathe oxygen both on land and in the water where it can stay submerged for up to 20 minutes.
  • Their webbed feet helps them to swim in water with ease.
  • They can slow down their metabolic rate during their summer hibernation.

Predators

Raccoons, herons, and alligators are some of the animals that prey on the eastern mud turtle. While the raccoons eat the eggs, the other two prey on adults.

IUCN Conservation Status

The IUCN has listed the eastern mud turtles under the ‘Least Concern’ category.

Eastern Mud Turtle Shell

Eastern Mud Turtle Pictures

Pet Care

If you are a novice at having turtles as pets, then you should go for the eastern mud turtle. It is not very fussy about how you keep it, as long as it has access to both land and water. They do bite, and you should be careful not to let it take a nip at you as with its hooked beak, it can hurt.

Interesting Facts

  • The Florida mud turtle (Kinosternon steindachneri) was once thought to be a subspecies of the eastern mud turtle but is not considered as such anymore.
  • The eastern mud turtle is the rarest turtle in the state of New York.
  • Despite its IUCN categorization, Indiana lists the eastern mud turtle under the ‘Endangered’ category.

References:

  1. http://www.virginiaherpetologicalsociety.com/reptiles/turtles/eastern-mud-turtle/eastern_mud_turtle.php
  2. https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factsheet.aspx?SpeciesID=1267
  3. http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7152.html
  4. http://www.reptilesmagazine.com/Turtle-Tortoise-Species/Eastern-Mud-Turtle/
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_mud_turtle

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