Eastern Mud Turtle

Kinosternon subrubrum

Summary 6

The eastern mud turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum) or common mud turtle is a common species of turtle found in the United States.

Taxon biology 7

The eastern mud turtle, Kinosternon subrubrum, is endemic to the southeastern corner of the United States.  Its range extends from southern New York along the eastern seaboard states inland to the Appalachian mountains, throughout Florida, west across the Gulf Coast states to central Texas and north through the Mississippi valley to southern Indiana. 

Eastern mud turtles inhabit a wide variety of shallow, slow or non-flowing, heavily vegetated waterbodies and meadows.  It is tolerant of some salinity and can be abundant in salt marshes.  These turtles spends much of their time on soft mud bottoms.  Kinosternon subrubrum is an omnivore, eating insects, mollusks, crustaceans, amphibian larvae, small fish, carrion, and aquatic plants.  In the south, these turtles are active all year, further north they hibernate in cold months.  They can be partly terrestrial, often travel over land to choose overwintering spots away from water, and sometimes forage out of water.  In some places they dig burrows 1-3 feet deep in sand, mud or leaf litter, in which to hibernate. 

Kinosternon subrubrum is a small and often hard to identify species.  Their smooth, round carapace varies in color from yellow to black, with no pattern.  Their lower shell is also dark, sometimes with a faint pattern.  They have a yellow eye, grey and sometimes mottled chin, throat and legs, and webbed feet.  Males and females both reach about 12 cm (4.7 inches) in length.  They can live up to 45 years of age, reaching sexual maturity when 4-8 years old.  Mating occurs April-May and soon thereafter females lay 1-3 clutches, each containing 1-8 eggs, in nests they dig in soft, well-drained dirt.  They usually choose nesting spots under vegetation or in muskrat tunnels or beaver dens.  Incubation takes about 100 days.  Hatchlings measure 18-23 mm (0.75-1 inch). 

Eastern mud turtles are widespread, and generally quite abundant in suitable habitat, though may be locally effected by habitat destruction, road mortality, and pesticide poisoning.  They are rare on edges of their range (for example they are listed as endangered in New York).  Predators include large water birds and alligators, which frequently hunt the adults, and raccoons prey on their eggs.  Eastern mud turtles are regularly found in the pet trade.

(NY Department of Environmental Conservation 2016; Somma et al. 2016; van Dijk 2013; Wikipedia 2016)

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) Patrick Coin, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://www.flickr.com/photos/42264328@N00/1402453612
  2. (c) Fredlyfish4, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1d/Kinosternon_subrubrum_UMFS_2014_2.JPG
  3. (c) Dave Huth, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC), http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7097/7318324624_13668cce86_o.jpg
  4. (c) Dave Huth, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC), http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8144/7340384158_d2ca627a50_o.jpg
  5. (c) Laurie Vitt, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC), https://animaldiversity.org/collections/contributors/laurie_vitt/Ksubrubrum/medium.jpg
  6. (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinosternon_subrubrum
  7. (c) Dana Campbell, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), http://eol.org/data_objects/33093746

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