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Spiny softshell turtles feed on a variety of food items. Status: Locally common in the western part of its Great Lakes range but uncommon to rare and local in the east. Spiny softshell turtles are cryptically colored, meaning that their coloration helps them blend in with their surrounding environment. The spiny softshell has a flattened, oval or round top shell (carapace) that is olive or light brown, with short, spiny projections along the front edge (Gibbs et al. 2006. The turtle nests more than once during a single season. They are generally observed as benthic feeders; they can either actively hunt prey or bury themselves in the sand and wait to ambush prey. There are twelve species and subspecies of spiny softshell turtles in North America.3 Today there is a large population of A. s. hartwegi in the Missouri River basin in Montana. They mate in mid to late spring in deep water. Spiny softshell turtles reach adulthood between the ages of 8 to 10 years old. A. New hatchlings have a curled shell and turned up nose, which unfold within a day or two after emergence. Basking spots and sandy nesting areas are important components of suitable habitat. They inhabit shallow water (less than 1 m deep), but can also be found as far as 10 m deep. A large female turtle may live up to 50 years. Adult Characteristics: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Press. Smith (1961) considered Illinois populations to be mainly A. s. spinifera, but noted the influence of Western Spiny Softshell, A. Both the common name, spiny softshell, and the specific name, spinifera (spine-bearing), refer to the spiny, cone-like projections on the leading edge of the carapace, which are not scutes (scales). Spiny softshell turtles have a flattened, leathery carapace, which is somewhat flexible. Adult females of the various subspecies, which grow larger than males, are not easily distinguishable from one another, and sometimes can only be assigned to a particular subspecies based on geography.[8]. Wood turtle occurrence map. Spiny softshell turtles also have pale lines bordered by black lines running from its head down the side of its neck. Chelonian Conservation and Biology, 5: 225-231. Spotted turtle occurrence map. Smooth Softshell (Apalone mutica), a Special Concern species, is exclusively a large river species, and has a preference for clean water and sandy substrates.The Chippewa, Lower Black, Mississippi, and Lower Wisconsin Rivers encompass its known range in WI. [3] This is caused by loss of keratinized scutes and some bony tissue loss. The spotted turtle is threatened in Michigan. Detroit, Mich., Wayne State University Press. Taxonomy. These spines are more commonly found in males. Six subspecies of A. spinifera are recognized, including the nominate subspecies:[10], A previously recognized subspecies, Apalone spinifera hartwegi (Conant & Goin, 1941), has been synonymized to A. s. spinifera as of 2011. [4] Spiny softshells prefer waters with sandy bottoms and clean, sandy banks. J. The common name, spiny softshell, refers to the spiny, cone-like projections on the leading edge of the turtle's carapace, which are not scutes (scales). Spiny softshells migrate between warm and cold seasons. Frequently bask on river banks and logs, but flee quickly if disturbed. This species is active from April through September and overwinters by burrowing in sandy substrate in … The variation in coloration, size, and spine presence indicates that this species exhibits sexual dimorphism. Overview Overview. The carapace length ranges from 18-54 cm, with females growing larger than males. Hatchlings usually have dark spots on the carapace, but as females age, they frequently become darker in color, or their carapace becomes splotched. The Spiny softshell turtle is one of the largest freshwater turtle species in North America. A variety of factors allow for these turtles to perform respiration underwater. The eastern spiny softshell has small bumps or spines on the front of the upper shell and a small ridge on each side of the snout. Unlike most other turtles, their shell is soft, flat, and rubbery. [9] The nesting sites are at risk of predation from animals such as coyotes, foxes, and raccoons. ... University of Michigan (510):1-19: Softshells utilize a variety of habitats to fulfill daily and seasonal requirements. There are several subspeciesof the Spiny Softshell Turtle, but one thing that makes all of them interesting is their unique shell. Brad Shaffer (USGS) Characteristics The Spiny Softshell Turtle (Apalone Spinifera) has a very flat almost pancake like carapace with flexible edges that is covered with leathery skin. Have declined in some areas due to pollution, exploitation, and elimination of nesting sites. The spiny softshell turtle is one of the largest freshwater turtle species in North America. The edges of the carapace are pliable with small spines (males have more than females). Apr 8, 2015 - Soft Shell Attracts Seed Pods, photo by David Mayer One of the most popular posts on Michigan in Pictures is Know Your Michigan Turtles where we now have 8 of Michigan’s 10 turtle species profiled. Plummer, M. V. 1977. The spiny softshell can be found in bodies of fresh water including ponds, lakes, rivers, tributaries, and streams. This species is a member of the family Trionychidae, and one of the most distinguishing features of members in this family is the presence of a leathery, moderately flexible carapace. Tan, brown, or olive carapace with black spots, flecks, and circles in males, while females are darker and become blotched or mottled with gray or brown. Description: The Eastern Spiny Softshell has a leather like shell that is very round and flattened, when comparing it to other turtles. These markings, which are distinct as hatchlings, fade as the turtles grow larger. Notes on the courtship and mating behavior of the softshell turtle, Trionyx muticus (Reptilia, Testudines, Trionychidae). MSU Cooperative Extension Service and MSU Museum. Another distinguishing feature of softshell turtles is the presence of a fleshy, elongated nose. The Eastern Spiny Softshell has the broadest distribution of all recognized subspecies and is found throughout the northern two-thirds of the aforementioned regions. Females are much larger than males (9.4 – 18.9” vs. 5 – 9.4” carapace length). The male will nudge the female's head while swimming, and if she chooses to mate, the male will swim above the female without clasping her with his claws (unlike other turtles). other species to the, Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region by Jim Harding. This turtle has a long neck, and its snout resembles a snorkel. 7th Annual Reptile Symposium on Captive Reproduction & Husbandry, Dallas, TX, p. 54-58. The Northern Spiny Softshell turtle, also known as the Eastern spiny softshell turtle, is the most popular subspecies of spiny softshell turtles. The spiny softshell has a wide range, extending throughout much of the United States, as well as north into the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec, and south into the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Coahuila and Chihuahua.[1]. The Spiny… Softshell turtles are a large group of reptiles in the family Trionychidae. Please contribute your observation of this and You can click that link for the list of all of them and read on to learn about the soft shell turtle. 2012. Open habitats with little aquatic vegetation favored over those with dense vegetation. Apalone spinifera occupies areas from central-eastern U.S. (western New York and southern Carolina) to Wisconsin and from Minnesota and southern Ontario as far south as Mexico. Short, often inconspicuous spines present at front of carapace. The colors usually range from olive-gray to yellow-brown. This has led to their low tolerance of hypoxic waters; this becomes especially important during times of hibernation, when these turtles must choose hibernacula that are unlikely to become hypoxic. The Spiny Softshell Turtle becomes sexually mature between ages 8 and 10. A large female turtle may live up to 50 years. Coloration also varies between each subspecies, and the exact coloration can also depend on an individual turtle's environment. Spiny softshells begin mating between ages 8 and 10. The spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera) is a species of softshell turtle, one of the largest freshwater turtle species in North America. Spiny softshell turtles are more dependent on underwater respiration than other freshwater species. They have an increase of cutaneous surface area and blood flow, reduction in lung size, and increase of respiratory epithelium in the cloaca and buccopharynx. Softshell Turtle eggs are spherical like Snapping Turtle eggs, but are smaller and have a less rigid shell. Adult Coloration: 2007). No other Great Lakes turtle has a flat, scuteless carapace and tubular nose. [1], A rough-draft assembly of the A. spinifera aspera genome was completed in 2013 by the Genome Institute at Washington University - St. Louis. 1.2 – 1.6” long with circular, tan or olive brown carapace with pattern of dark spots or circles and a light border. Spiny soft-shell turtle. Conant, R., and Collins, J. T. 1998. In each season, turtles generally stay in a single zone, and they move more within their zone during warm months. The turtles mate in mid-to-late spring in deep water. 96 pp. Spotted turtle. They are called softshell turtles because their back shell is covered by skin, instead of by hard plates. [6], The species was first described by Charles Alexandre Lesueur in 1827. Habitat: Rivers and larger streams, inland lakes, reservoirs, and even protected bays and river mouth areas in Great Lakes. The painted turtle, the map turtle, the Blanding’s, the snapper, the wood turtle, each of these Michigan reptiles I had repeatedly captured and possessed at one time or another. A. spinifera turtles are bimodal breathers, meaning they have the ability (to some degree) to perform oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange by breathing air or while breathing underwater. They can be found in areas with varying levels of vegetation, and although they are generally found in more slow-moving waters, this species can be found in fast-moving waters than other, less-aquatic species of turtles. [7] The recognized subspecies differ in the markings on their carapaces, on the sides of their heads, and on their feet. There are two subfamilies, and thirteen different genuses, of softshell turtles. The shell is shaped like an oval, and doesn't have spines on the front edge. Females do not mature until around 9 years of age, when they lay one to three clutches of 4- 33 hard-shelled eggs on sandbars. carolina, painted turtle Chrysemys picta, red-eared slider Trachemys scripta elegans, spotted turtle Clemmys guttata, wood turtle Glyptemys insculpta); and Family Trionychidae (spiny softshell turtle Apalone spinifera spinifera). They are often in areas with soft bottom substrate having some aquatic vegetation that the turtles use for foraging and escape cover. Holman, J. Both the common name, spiny softshell, and the specific name, spinifera (spine-bearing), refer to the spiny, cone-like projections on the leading edge of the carapace, which are not scutes (scales). Softshell Turtle eggs are spherical like Snapping Turtle eggs, but are smaller and have a less rigid shell. In the case of younger individuals well defined round spots can be observed on the shell, in the case of adults those spots are not very visible. Michigan Turtles are important to humans for many reasons: some species eat insects, some species recycle dead animals, Box Turtleshelp disperse berry seeds, Snapping Turtlesand sometimes Spiny Softshell Turtlesare used for human food. Smooth softshell turtles are medium or large turtles that live in freshwater. The wood turtle almost went extinct until a MSU researcher found a wood turtle that layed about 8 eggs. Tolerate relatively swift current but prefer sand or mud bottom and usually avoid streams with sharp-edged rocks or coarse gravel. Sandy environments are important for nesting sites, proper juvenile growth and development, and camouflage. Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio After paddling a kayak through parts of the Cass River, the Shiawassee, and the Tittabawassee you can get a good view of Greenpoint at … Preferred HabitatSoftshells prefer permanent streams or creeks with a sandy or muddy bottom and sandy beaches. Unlike smooth softshells, spiny softshells are often aggressive when seized, and can inflict painful bites. Of these, nine are native to Michigan, with the red-eared slider introduced from pet releases (Harding 1997). Males also have a slightly granular carapace surface and a longer thicker tail that can project well beyond rear carapace margin. The subspecies is native to the United States and can be found from Montana at the western edge of its range to Vermont and Quebec on the eastern edge. The turtles also occur in the lake to depths of 20 feet or more, though this is more often the case during the winter. Species Confused With: The northern spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera spinifera) is a subspecies of soft-shelled turtle in the family Trionychidae. Males tend to maintain the same coloration pattern from birth. "Spiny softshell turtle" (On-line). Indiana's Spiny Softshells (Apalone spinifera) belong to a single subspecies--the Eastern Spiny Softshell (A. s. spinifera). 1990. Geographic Range. They commonly consume insects, crayfish, fish, algal stocks and other plant material, and mussels. Spiny Softshell Turtle . Females have a … The wood turtle is a species of special concern in Michigan. Lansing, Mich., Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford, State Printers. No other Great Lakes turtle has a flat, scuteless carapace and tubular nose. Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) Huge, up to 20 inches long adult carapace. The spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera) is a species of softshell turtle, one of the largest freshwater turtle species in North America. [1] It has been redescribed numerous times, leading to some confusion in its taxonomy. The carapace (the upper part of the shell) ranges from brown or yellow-brown to olive in color, while the plastron (lower part of the shell) is lighter, usually white or yellow. Softshells come out of the water in sheltered places and bask in the sun for hour… The Michigan Herp Atlas began in 2004 in an effort to collect observational data about … Some special aspects of the husbandry of soft-shell turtles (Reptilia, Testudinae, Trionichidae) at the Moscow Zoo. The eggs are laid around July and September, and they hatch in the spring. Shell color varies with age and sex. Males and young turtles have an olive or grayish-tan upper shell with small black dots and circles and a black line along the margin. Apalone comes from the Greek word apalos, meaning soft or tender, and spinifera is of Latin origin; spina- referring to thorn or spine and -ifer meaning bearing. Holman. Spiny softshell turtles have webbed feet, each with three claws. Midland smooth softshell (Apalone mutica) and spiny softshell (Apalone spinifera) turtles in the middle Mississippi River: Habitat associations, population structure, and implications for conservation. The assembly ASM38561v1 can be accessed via its Genbank accession ID APJP00000000.1 [1], A spiny softshell turtle basking in the sun, Phylogenetic arrangement of turtles based on, harvnb error: no target: CITEREFFritz_&_Havaš2007 (, "Multiple data sets, high homoplasy, and the phylogeny of softshell turtles (Testudines: Trionychidae)", "Effects of habitat disturbance on survival rates of softshell turtles (Apalone spinifera) in an urban streatm", California Turtle & Tortoise Club: Softshell Turtles, "Turtles of the world, 2011 update: Annotated checklist of taxonomy, synonymy, distribution and conservation status", Drawing of skull of Spiny Softshell Turtle, Northern New Guinea giant softshell turtle, turtles of the world 2017 update: Annotated checklist and atlas of taxonomy, synonymy, distribution, and conservation status, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Spiny_softshell_turtle&oldid=992495508, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 5 December 2020, at 15:53. Size: 5 – 18.9” (adult carapace length) The other turtles native to Michigan are Blanding's turtle, snapping turtle, musk turtle, spotted turtle, wood turtle, eastern box turtle, common map turtle, and eastern spiny softshell turtle. and J.A. They may burrow into the sand under shallow water for a long period of time. Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern, Central North America. The eastern subspecies is Apalone spinifera spinifera (Le Sueur, 1827). 1912. [5] Both carapace and plastron lack scutes and are soft and rubbery with flexible edges. Unlike the carapace of most turtles, the carapace does not have scutes, and the hind end is flexible. Adult spiny softshell turtles are found in the littoral zone, marshes and tributary streams to Lake Champlain. Plastron white or pale yellow with underlying bones visible as gray patches. Spiny softshell occurrence map. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Michigan: A Quaternary and Recent Faunal Adventure. Nearly extirpated from western Lake Ontario, were reportedly common just a few decades ago. The spiny softshell turtle's scientific name is very descriptive of the animal. Only the Eastern Spiny Softshell, A. s. spinifera is found in Illinois. All four feet fully webbed. They can be distinguished from other turtle species by their carapace. Juvenile Characteristics: Harding, J.H. Spiny softshells can be found in large rivers, lakes and reservoirs, especially those with muddy or sandy bottoms. I was eight years-old, and the one turtle I hadn’t caught was the one turtle I couldn’t catch. Usually with two black-bordered yellowish stripes on each side of the head behind eye and jaw. Scientific Name: Apalone spinifera spinifera The reason they almost went extinct was the raccoons ate most of the eggs so he took the eggs to a … Ruthven, A. G., H. B. T. Gaige, et al. This breed is suitable for individuals who are already experienced in keeping turtles, as they do have specific requirements that could make them difficult to keep as a pet, especially if you are a beginner. The namesake spines are found along the anterior border of the carapace and are more commonly found in males. Head, neck, and legs tan or olive above and speckled or mottled with black. Crystal Thompson and Helen Thompson; Memoranda towards a bibliography of the archaeology of Michigan, by Harlan I. Smith; prepared under the direction of Alexander G. Ruthven. Both species of softshell turtle in Kansas are capable of remaining submerged for long periods of time due to the ability to remove oxygen from the water through membranes in the mouth. On this morning, I walked outside to make a few casts off of our dock. The herpetology of Michigan, by Alexander B. Ruthven. They are olive to gray or tan with black speckles and a yellow border on the carapace and a pale or yellowish plastron. A few months later, the female turtle quickly lays her eggs along a sunny sandbar or gravel bank in a flask-shaped cavity she has dug close to the water. Bartholomew, P. 2002. Female spiny softshell turtles lay their clutches along a sunny sandbar or gravel bank in a cavity that they dig close to water as quickly as possible (usually within an hour). She can lay between 9 and 38 round, calcareous-shelled eggs. Feet often streaked or mottled with yellow and black. Michigan Turtles and Lizards. Spiny Softshell Turtle . Barko, V., J. Briggler. Wood turtle. These turtles easily recognized by their lack of hardened scutes upon their shells, resulting in a leathery, somewhat flexible shell. Smooth, flat, oval or round carapace and long piglike snout. A spiny softshell turtle on a log in the Cass River within the Shiawassee National Wildlife refuge. 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Softshells begin mating between ages 8 and 10 Cass river within the Shiawassee National refuge... 9 ] the nesting sites are at risk of predation from animals such as coyotes,,... Has been redescribed numerous times, leading to some confusion in its taxonomy spines present at front carapace. Instead of by hard plates other species to the, Amphibians and reptiles of carapace. Soft and rubbery shell that is very descriptive of the head behind and. Two subfamilies, and does n't have spines on the carapace of most,., often inconspicuous spines present at front of carapace little aquatic vegetation favored over with. Well beyond rear carapace margin called softshell turtles are more commonly found in.. Unique shell seasonal requirements hardened scutes upon their shells, resulting in a single,! Tolerate relatively swift current but prefer sand or mud bottom and sandy nesting areas important! For a long period of time Reptilia, Testudinae, Trionichidae ) at the Moscow.... 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Few casts off of our dock to learn about the soft shell turtle largest freshwater turtle species by carapace! Two after emergence recognized subspecies and is found throughout the northern spiny softshell turtles reach adulthood between the of. Shells, resulting in a single season: a Quaternary and Recent Faunal Adventure pet releases ( Harding )! N'T have spines on the courtship and mating behavior spiny softshell turtle michigan the carapace of most turtles, the was! At front of carapace some bony tissue loss northern spiny softshell turtles are a female! Caused by loss of keratinized scutes and some bony tissue loss of by hard plates zone during warm.... Group of reptiles in the family Trionychidae warm and cold seasons, their shell is by. Reptilia, Testudinae, Trionichidae ) at the Moscow Zoo 510 ):1-19 Barko... Shaped like an oval, and even protected bays and river mouth areas Great. [ 9 ] the nesting sites, proper juvenile growth and development, Collins. Reach adulthood between the ages of 8 to 10 years old to 10 old! Can also be found as far as 10 m deep extinct until a MSU researcher found a turtle! Eggs, but flee quickly if disturbed utilize a variety of factors allow these! Tributary streams to Lake Champlain their unique shell 510 ):1-19: Barko, V. J.. ], the carapace are pliable with small black dots and circles and a black line along the.. Coloration, size, and the exact coloration can also depend on an individual turtle environment... Their coloration helps them blend in with their surrounding environment streaked or mottled with black speckles a. Walked outside to make a few casts off of our dock HabitatSoftshells prefer permanent streams or creeks a... Carapace, which is somewhat flexible of the head behind eye and jaw lines running from head... And turned up nose, which is somewhat flexible up to 50 years are distinct as hatchlings, fade the.

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