Turtles in New Mexico

Despite popular belief, New Mexico isn’t an utterly arid landscape that is only home to the Desert Tortoise but also has several diverse environments. There are several river systems like the Pecos, San Juan, and Canadian Rivers where freshwater turtles like the Common Snapping Turtle, the Rio Grande Cooter, and the Big Bend Slider live.

Types of Turtles Found in New Mexico

Snapping Turtles (Chelydridae)

  • Common Snapping Turtle

Emydid Turtles (Emydidae)

Painted Turtles


  • Rio Grande Cooter

Box Turtles


  • Red-eared Slider
  • Big Bend Slider
  • Pond Slider

Mud and Musk Turtles (Kinosternidae)

  • Sonora Mud Turtle
  • Yellow Mud Turtle

Softshell Turtles (Trionychidae)

  • Midland Smooth Softshell
  • Eastern Spiny Softshell
  • Texas Spiny Softshell
  • Western Spiny Softshell

Tortoises (Testudinidae)


Are there any endangered turtles in New Mexico?

Several turtles in New Mexico are potentially at risk, including the Big Bend Slider, the Sonora Mud Turtle, and the Desert Box Turtle.

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