Turtles in Iowa

The borders of the state of Iowa are defined by the Missouri River on the east and the Big Sioux River on the west – the only U.S. state to have this distinction. Besides the two rivers are several freshwater lakes, including Clear Lake, Spirit Lake, and West and East Okoboji Lakes. As a result of this diverse number of lakes, several freshwater species of turtle can be found here. These include the Common Snapping Turtle, the Northern Map Turtle, and the Wood Turtle.

Turtles in Iowa (IA)

Types of Turtles Found in Iowa

Snapping Turtles (Chelydridae)

  • Common Snapping Turtle

Emydid Turtles (Emydidae)

Blanding’s Turtles

  •  Blanding’s Turtle

Painted Turtles

Map Turtles

  • Northern Map Turtle
  • Ouachita Map Turtle
  • False Map Turtle

Box Turtles

Glyptemys Turtles

  • Wood Turtle


  • Red-eared Slider
  • Pond Slider

Mud and Musk Turtles (Kinosternidae)

  • Eastern Musk Turtle (Stinkpot)
  • Yellow Mud Turtle

Softshell Turtles (Trionychidae)

  • Midland Smooth Softshell
  • Spiny Softshell


Are there any endangered turtles in Iowa?

The Wood Turtle and the Yellow Mud Turtle are at risk of extinction in Iowa. Other such turtles threatened in the state include the Blanding’s Turtle, the Stinkpot Turtle, and the Ornate Box Turtle.

Are there Alligator Snapping Turtles in Iowa?

While this species was once found in the part of the Mississippi River flowing through Iowa, recent estimates suggest it has been extirpated.

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