Turtles in California

California is one of the most biodiverse states in the entire United States. Each part of the state has wildly different habitats, leading to a diverse variety of turtles living here. This includes Loggerhead and Olive Ridley Sea Turtles near the coast, the Red-eared Slider and the Texas Spiny Softshell in freshwater bodies, and the Desert Tortoise in arid areas.

Turtles in California (CA)

Types of Turtles Found in California

Snapping Turtles (Chelydridae)

Sea Turtles (Cheloniidae)

Leatherback Sea Turtles (Dermochelyidae)

  • Leatherback Sea Turtle

Hawksbill Sea Turtles (Eretmochelys)

Emydid Turtles (Emydidae)

Painted Turtles


  • Red-eared Slider

Pond Turtles

Mud and Musk Turtles (Kinosternidae)

  • Sonoran Mud Turtle

Softshell Turtles (Trionychidae)

  • Texas Spiny Softshell

Tortoises (Testudinidae)


Are there any endangered turtles in California?

Several of the turtles found in California are at risk of going extinct if proper measures to protect them aren’t put into place. These include the Desert Tortoise and several sea turtles like the Leatherback Sea Turtle, the Green Sea Turtle, the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle, and the Loggerhead Sea Turtle.

Where to see sea turtles in California?

California’s beaches are often visited by Green Sea Turtles, which come on land to lay their eggs.

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