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Field and Swamp: Animals and Their Habitats

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Turtles (order Testudines, class Reptilia, subphylum Vertebrata, phylum Chordata, kingdom Animalia, domain Eukaryota)

These taxonomic classifications are valid according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System.

Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina, family Chelydridae)

Snapping Turtle, Durham, NC, 6/10/10.  Found in a marsh (with some stray grass clippings attached). Snapping Turtle, Durham, NC, 5/7/03.  This large turtle showed up in another yard on my street after a heavy rain and crawled under a bush when I started photographing it.  Notice the small nose with its two tiny nostrils. Snapping Turtle, Johnston Mill Nature Preserve, Orange County, NC, 4/13/06. Snapping Turtle, Pea Island NWR, Dare County, NC, 5/7/06 Snapping Turtle, Sewee Visitors Center, Francis Marion National Forest, Charleston County, SC, 3/29/06

 

Snapping Turtle, Asheboro, Randolph County, NC, 5/9/07.  This turtle showed up in a pond in a popular picnicking place near the zoo, apparently expecting a handout.

Eastern Mud Turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum, subfamily Kinosterninae, family Kinosternidae)

Eastern Mud Turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum), Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 4/17/07.  These turtles are nocturnal, but that didn't keep one from sleeping on one of the trails!  Eastern Mud Turtle, about 2 inches long, Ft. Fisher Basin Trail, New Hanover County, NC, 10/15/09

Eastern Musk Turtle (Sternotherus odoratus, subfamily Kinosterninae, family Kinosternidae)

Eastern Musk Turtle (Sternotherus odoratus), Durham, 6/30/05.  This turtle was underwater at the pond in my Durham neighborhood.

Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin, family Emydidae)

         
Diamondback Terrapin, Ft. Fisher Basin Trail, New Hanover County, NC, 5/24/11          

River Cooters (Pseudemys Concinna, family Emydidae)

Based on my limited experience with River Cooters, I'd say they are most notable for their deep red plastrons and a foot stuck out behind them.

River Cooters, Bobbitt's Hole, Eno River State Park, Old Cole Mill Road access, Orange County, NC, 4/02/06 River Cooter, Eno River State Park, Old Cole Mill Road access, Orange County, NC, 5/19/06 River Cooter, Eno River State Park, Old Cole Mill Road access, Orange County, NC, 3/13/07.  Here you can see the feet in detail.

Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta, family Emydidae)

Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta), Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 5/28/05.

Florida Cooter (Chrysemys floridana, family Emydidae)

Maybe a Florida or Hieroglyphic Cooter, Penny's Bend Nature Preserve, Durham County, NC, 6/15/07.  This turtle showed up on ridge level, far from the river.  It was very large, at least a foot long. Florida Cooter, Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, Dare County, NC, 5/10/09

Sliders (Trachemys scripta, family Emydidae)

     
Yellowbelly Slider, Lake Park, Carolina Beach, New Hanover County, NC, 3/10/10 Yellowbelly Sliders and Red-Eared Slider, Asheville, 7/21/03.  One turtle (foreground, facing left) has the characteristic red marking of the Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans).  Red-eared Sliders are not believed to occur as far east as North Carolina by Texas Parks and Wildlife, although Montgomery County, Maryland's Department of Environmental Protection lists it as a species found locally. Yellowbelly Slider, with lots of duckweed, fresh from a swampy area.  ID thanks to Brian Bockhahn.  Flat River Impoundment, Durham County, NC, 6/3/11 Same Yellowbelly Slider.  Not just a slider but a climber, too!      

 

Red-eared Slider, Duke Gardens, Durham, NC, 7/21/07 Red-eared Sliders, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 3/20/07 Red-eared Slider, Asheboro, Randolph County, NC, 5/9/07.  This was one of many other turtles at the pond also apparently hoping to be fed.

 


© copyright 2005 Dorothy E. Pugh
Redbelly Turtle (Pseudemys rubiventris), Dare County, NC, 10/6/05.  Not positive of this ID. Slider? Unknown species, Sewee Visitors Center, Francis Marion National Forest, Charleston County, SC, 3/29/06.  This turtle has apparently seen lots of action: maybe this is what makes identification so difficult.

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina, family Emydidae)

Mating Eastern Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina), Wayne County, NC.  Copyright ©   Jesse M. Degnan. Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina): head shot.  The turtle had a cataract in this eye and couldn't see me.  Durham, NC, 9/20/09 Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina), Durham, 5/21/03.  Box turtles are very common in our back yard. Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina), Johnston Mill Nature Preserve, Orange County, NC, 7/15/06 Eastern Box Turtle, Durham, NC, 7/11/08 Eastern Box Turtle

Mystery Turtles

I thought this large turtle (at least a foot long) I saw in a creek in my Durham neighborhood on 9/9/05 was a rock until it moved.  The head is partially obscured by the plants in the foreground.  Even so, the many small plates are unusual for turtles in this area. Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, 5/13/04.  May be a Diamondback Terrapin: the distinctive shell plate pattern doesn't match any other species.

© Copyright 2005-2008 by Dorothy Pugh