Black-knobbed Map Turtle (Graptemys nigrinoda)

…a species of emydid turtle that is endemic to the southeastern United States, specifically the Mobile Bay drainages in Mississippi and the Tombigbee/ Black Warrior River systems in Alabama. Black-knobbed map turtles are typically active from April to late November and have a diet that consists mainly of algae, insects, mollusks, sponges and bryozoans. As its common name suggests G. nigridoda’s first four vertebrate posessing knob like processes. The second and third processes typically more dominant and will reduce with age. G. nigridoda is also sexually dimorphic with females being twice the size as males, poscessing higer carapaces, and shorter tails than males.

Currently Graptemys nigrinoda is listed as near threatened and faces threats from habitat degradation and habitat loss.


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Images: graptemys.com and M. North

Escambia Map Turtle - Graptemys ernsti

This is an adult male of the species Graptemys ernsti (Testudines - Emydidae), a rare and Near Threatened turtle endemic to the United States, restricted to parts of the Escambia, Yellow, and Shoal rivers and their tributaries in western Florida and adjoining Alabama.

This is a medium to large size turtle. Males are up to 12.7 cm as adults and females are about 29 cm.  It has a domed shell keel that is exaggerated as a hatchling and slowly wears down with age, especially old females.

References: [1] - [2]

Photo credit: ©Kenneth P. Wray | Locality: Northwest Florida, US (2007)

Blanding’s Turtle (Emydoidea blandingii)

Also recorded as Emys blandingii, Blanding’s turtle is an endangered species of semi-aquatic marsh turtle (Emydidae) which is native to North America, where it occurs mainly in the great lakes region, extending into central Nebraska and Minnesota. Like many other members of its family, Blanding’s turtles are primarily encountered in wetlands, typically with clean shallow water. They are also known to wander far from water, primarily during the nesting season. Blanding’s turtles are omnivorous, feeding on a range of freshwater invertebrates, carrion, berries and other plant matter .

Currently Emydoidea blandgingii is listed as endangered by the IUCN, as it faces major threats from habitat fragmentation/destruction as well as nest predation by introduced predators. 


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Image: Me!

Terrapene carolina triungis | ©Dietrich Meyer   (Bryan, Texas, US)

Terrapene carolina (Emydidae) is a species of box turtle found throughout the eastern United States and Mexico. It has six recognized subspecies, four of them are found in the United States, and two subspecies are found in Mexico. 

All box turtles have a bilobed, hinged plastron that allows the turtle to close its shell almost completely (that is why they are named box turtles). When frightened, box turtles retract their head, tail, and limbs into their shell and clamp it shut.

Terrapene carolina triungis (pictured) occurs in the Mississippi River Valley from northern Missouri southward across southeastern Kansas and eastern Oklahoma into south-central Texas, and southeastward across western Tennessee and Georgia to the coastal lowlands. It is known as the Three-toed box turtle by having only three toes on their hind feet instead of the normal four.


Painted Turtle @ Colonel Samuel Smith Park, Etobicoke (Grey skies and foggy).

The painted turtle has a very similar appearance to the red-eared slider (the most common pet turtle) and the two are often confused. The painted turtle can be distinguished because it is flatter than the slider. Also, the slider has a prominent red marking on the side of its head (the “ear”) and a spotted bottom shell, both features missing in the painted turtle.

Hispaniolan Slider (Trachemys decorata)

Also sometimes known as the Hatian Slider, the Hispaniolan slider is a species of pond turtle (Emydidae) which is endemic to the Dominican Republic and Haiti (Hispaniola). Hispaniolan sliders are a freshwater species inhabiting freshwater ponds, lakes, and rivers and feeding on a range of aquatic insects, vegetation, and occasionally fish. 


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Image: Brian Gratwicke

Carolina Diamondback Terrapin - Malaclemys terrapin centrata

An attractive adult male of the Carolina Diamondback Terrapin, Malaclemys terrapin centrata (Testudines - Emydidae), a subspecies found from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina to northern Florida, in the United States.

Reference: [1

Photo credit: ©Kevin Stohlgren | Locality: Glynn Co., Georgia, US (2013)

Red-eared Slider - Trachemys scripta elegans

The Red-eared Slider, Trachemys scripta elegans (Testudines - Emydidae) is ‘the’ traditional pet turtle, farmed in large quantities in the southern USA for the global pet trade.

It is a semiaquatic turtle found throughout the United States east of the Rockies to extreme northeastern Mexico. It is said that some 3 to 4 million Red-eared sliders are exported from the United States every year. Most originate from intensive farms in Louisiana and Mississippi. However, the same commercial turtle hunters who supply replacement breeding stock for these farms are also responsible for collecting as many as 25,000 - 30,000 adult animals per week for export to foreign food markets (mainly in the Far East). 

References: [1] - [2] - [3]

Photo credit: ©Jon Nelson | Locality: not indicated (2012)

You know you’re getting good at Latin species name memorization when your mind translates Terrapene ornata (ornate box turtle) into ‘fancy land penis.’

But wait, it gets better.

I searched 'Latin pene’ on Google and discovered that this literally translates into 'fancy land penis.’ I win college, bye.

Pond slider - Trachemys scripta

Trachemys scripta (Emydidae) is a species of xx native to the United States and Mexico, which has been introduced in many countries around the world.

Pond sliders are aquatic, omnivorous generalists, which rarely leave water except to bask.

References: [1] - [2] - [3]

Photo credit: ©e_monk | Locality: Lake Lynn, Westlake, Raleigh, North Carolina, US (2010)

Road kills are always heart breaking – whether the animal is a little toad or a macaque. In this case, the Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) was found dead, after being run over by a vehicle just in our own area. Like we mentioned before, we always move road kills to the roadside to prevent secondary road kill. But what makes this worse is the fact that these Red-eared Sliders are imported in thousands every year to meet the demand for the “legal” pet trade. However, most who buy them often are not aware of their housing/dietary needs, lifespan and maximum size, resulting in abandonment or release into unsuitable environment. Most sliders who are released sadly end up as road kills.

Source: Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) Facebook

Turtle in the Summer Sun | ©Trish Hartmann

Peninsula Cooter, Pseudemys floridana peninsularis (Reptilia - Testudines - Emydidae), photographed near Tampa, Florida at Lettuce Lake Park, US.

The status of the taxon Pseudemys peninsularis remains subject to different interpretations as a full separate species or a subspecies of P. floridana, depending on the assignment of the taxon floridana as a full species or a subspecies of concinna.

This species is widespread in peninsular Florida and generally common in suitable habitat including a variety of protected areas.