Conant, R., and Collins, J. T. 1998. The spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera) is a species of softshell turtle, one of the largest freshwater turtle species in North America. Bartholomew, P. 2002. The variation in coloration, size, and spine presence indicates that this species exhibits sexual dimorphism. 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. Plastron white or pale yellow with underlying bones visible as gray patches. 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 flattened, oval or round top shell (carapace) that is olive or light brown, with short, spiny projections along the front edge (Gibbs et al. Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern, Central North America. Size: 5 – 18.9” (adult carapace length) Unlike in other turtles, in the spiny softshell turtle, the sex of the hatchlings is not determined by temperature variations; it is determined by genetics. Unlike the carapace of most turtles, the carapace does not have scutes, and the hind end is flexible. Status: Locally common in the western part of its Great Lakes range but uncommon to rare and local in the east. Usually with two black-bordered yellowish stripes on each side of the head behind eye and jaw. They are often in areas with soft bottom substrate having some aquatic vegetation that the turtles use for foraging and escape cover. The turtle nests more than once during a single season. There are two subfamilies, and thirteen different genuses, of softshell turtles. 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. New hatchlings have a curled shell and turned up nose, which unfold within a day or two after emergence. Adult Coloration: 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. Spiny softshell turtles feed on a variety of food items. 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). A large female turtle may live up to 50 years. They can be distinguished from other turtle species by their carapace. The northern spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera spinifera) is a subspecies of soft-shelled turtle in the family Trionychidae. Basking spots and sandy nesting areas are important components of suitable habitat. They are olive to gray or tan with black speckles and a yellow border on the carapace and a pale or yellowish plastron. Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) Huge, up to 20 inches long adult carapace. Preferred HabitatSoftshells prefer permanent streams or creeks with a sandy or muddy bottom and sandy beaches. 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. Spotted turtle occurrence map. 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). The wood turtle almost went extinct until a MSU researcher found a wood turtle that layed about 8 eggs. Hatchlings usually have dark spots on the carapace, but as females age, they frequently become darker in color, or their carapace becomes splotched. 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. They commonly consume insects, crayfish, fish, algal stocks and other plant material, and mussels. 2006. No other Great Lakes turtle has a flat, scuteless carapace and tubular nose. This species is active from April through September and overwinters by burrowing in sandy substrate in … She can lay between 9 and 38 round, calcareous-shelled eggs. They inhabit shallow water (less than 1 m deep), but can also be found as far as 10 m deep. Adult spiny softshell turtles are found in the littoral zone, marshes and tributary streams to Lake Champlain. Tolerate relatively swift current but prefer sand or mud bottom and usually avoid streams with sharp-edged rocks or coarse gravel. "Spiny softshell turtle" (On-line). 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. A large female turtle may live up to 50 years. The Spiny softshell turtle is one of the largest freshwater turtle species in North America. 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. Chelonian Conservation and Biology, 5: 225-231. They may burrow into the sand under shallow water for a long period of time. 7th Annual Reptile Symposium on Captive Reproduction & Husbandry, Dallas, TX, p. 54-58. 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. Geographic Range. 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. 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. 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. 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. [1], A rough-draft assembly of the A. spinifera aspera genome was completed in 2013 by the Genome Institute at Washington University - St. Louis. The wood turtle is a species of special concern in Michigan. Spiny softshell turtles are more dependent on underwater respiration than other freshwater species. The shell is shaped like an oval, and doesn't have spines on the front edge. 1.2 – 1.6” long with circular, tan or olive brown carapace with pattern of dark spots or circles and a light border. [6], The species was first described by Charles Alexandre Lesueur in 1827. Both carapace and plastron lack scutes and are soft and rubbery with flexible edges. Males tend to maintain the same coloration pattern from birth. [9] The nesting sites are at risk of predation from animals such as coyotes, foxes, and raccoons. 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 … Spiny softshells begin mating between ages 8 and 10. Head, neck, and legs tan or olive above and speckled or mottled with black. Males also have a slightly granular carapace surface and a longer thicker tail that can project well beyond rear carapace margin. Wood turtle occurrence map. 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. J. and J.A. The spiny softshell turtle is one of the largest freshwater turtle species in North America. Holman. Spiny softshells migrate between warm and cold seasons. [3] This is caused by loss of keratinized scutes and some bony tissue loss. Michigan Turtles and Lizards. This turtle has a long neck, and its snout resembles a snorkel. The reason they almost went extinct was the raccoons ate most of the eggs so he took the eggs to a … These turtles easily recognized by their lack of hardened scutes upon their shells, resulting in a leathery, somewhat flexible shell. Frequently bask on river banks and logs, but flee quickly if disturbed. Ruthven, A. G., H. B. T. Gaige, et al. Only the Eastern Spiny Softshell, A. s. spinifera is found in Illinois. All four feet fully webbed. 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. Plummer, M. V. 1977. 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. Unlike smooth softshells, spiny softshells are often aggressive when seized, and can inflict painful bites. 2012. 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. The spiny softshell can be found in bodies of fresh water including ponds, lakes, rivers, tributaries, and streams. I was eight years-old, and the one turtle I hadn’t caught was the one turtle I couldn’t catch. Of these, nine are native to Michigan, with the red-eared slider introduced from pet releases (Harding 1997). The carapace length ranges from 18-54 cm, with females growing larger than males. The turtles also occur in the lake to depths of 20 feet or more, though this is more often the case during the winter. Indiana's Spiny Softshells (Apalone spinifera) belong to a single subspecies--the Eastern Spiny Softshell (A. s. spinifera). Juvenile Characteristics: [1] It has been redescribed numerous times, leading to some confusion in its taxonomy. Spiny softshell occurrence map. Please contribute your observation of this and 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). 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. MSU Cooperative Extension Service and MSU Museum. Softshells come out of the water in sheltered places and bask in the sun for hour… Open habitats with little aquatic vegetation favored over those with dense vegetation. Barko, V., J. Briggler. 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). 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. Adult Characteristics: The herpetology of Michigan, by Alexander B. Ruthven. Spiny softshell turtles reach adulthood between the ages of 8 to 10 years old. The namesake spines are found along the anterior border of the carapace and are more commonly found in males. Some special aspects of the husbandry of soft-shell turtles (Reptilia, Testudinae, Trionichidae) at the Moscow Zoo. Shell color varies with age and sex. Smith (1961) considered Illinois populations to be mainly A. s. spinifera, but noted the influence of Western Spiny Softshell, A. Overview Overview. Coloration also varies between each subspecies, and the exact coloration can also depend on an individual turtle's environment. The Spiny Softshell Turtle becomes sexually mature between ages 8 and 10. Another distinguishing feature of softshell turtles is the presence of a fleshy, elongated nose. There are several subspeciesof the Spiny Softshell Turtle, but one thing that makes all of them interesting is their unique shell. Spotted turtle. Have declined in some areas due to pollution, exploitation, and elimination of nesting sites. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Michigan: A Quaternary and Recent Faunal Adventure. The colors usually range from olive-gray to yellow-brown. Softshells utilize a variety of habitats to fulfill daily and seasonal requirements. The spiny softshell turtle's scientific name is very descriptive of the animal. A spiny softshell turtle on a log in the Cass River within the Shiawassee National Wildlife refuge. Spiny Softshell Turtle . 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. 96 pp. Softshell Turtle eggs are spherical like Snapping Turtle eggs, but are smaller and have a less rigid shell. 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. Spiny softshell turtles are cryptically colored, meaning that their coloration helps them blend in with their surrounding environment. [5] The edges of the carapace are pliable with small spines (males have more than females). 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). They mate in mid to late spring in deep water. A. Smooth softshell turtles are medium or large turtles that live in freshwater. Short, often inconspicuous spines present at front of carapace. They are generally observed as benthic feeders; they can either actively hunt prey or bury themselves in the sand and wait to ambush prey. Lansing, Mich., Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford, State Printers. [4] Spiny softshells prefer waters with sandy bottoms and clean, sandy banks. Notes on the courtship and mating behavior of the softshell turtle, Trionyx muticus (Reptilia, Testudines, Trionychidae). You can click that link for the list of all of them and read on to learn about the soft shell turtle. 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. Detroit, Mich., Wayne State University Press. The Eastern Spiny Softshell has the broadest distribution of all recognized subspecies and is found throughout the northern two-thirds of the aforementioned regions. Spiny softshell turtles have a flattened, leathery carapace, which is somewhat flexible. Harding, J.H. Unlike most other turtles, their shell is soft, flat, and rubbery. 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. Spiny softshell turtles also have pale lines bordered by black lines running from its head down the side of its neck. These markings, which are distinct as hatchlings, fade as the turtles grow larger. Carapace does not have scutes, and the exact coloration can also be found Illinois. Neck, and raccoons be mainly A. s. spinifera, but can also be found as far as m... Or sandy bottoms two black-bordered yellowish stripes on each side of the carapace of most turtles, carapace! 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