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Spiny Softshell Apalone spinifera


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Spiny Softshell, Texas subspecies
credit: LA Dawson

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Alternate name: Spiny Softshell Turtle

Family: Trionychidae, Softshell Turtles view all from this family

Description Carapace covered by leathery skin. Tan/olive. Light-black bordered eye spots on carapace. Light stripes on head. lateral ridge on nostrils, which extends from septum.

Dimensions (5-9 1/4") Females: 16.5-45.7cm. (6 1/2-18").

Subspecies Eastern Spiny Softshell - Eye spots on carapace. w. New York to Wisconsin, south to Tennessee River. Also lake Champion. Ottawa River and New Jersey.
Western Spiny Softshell - Dots on Carapace. Minnesota to Arkansas, se. Wyoming, e. Colorado, ne. New Mexico, also Missouri River drainage Montana.
Gulf Coast Spiny Softshell - Dark lines on rim of Carapace. sc. North Carolina to Florida panhandle, Mississippi and e. Louisiana.
Pallid Spiny Softshell - Tubercules on carapace w. Louisiana, s. Oklahoma, and most of n. and e. Texas.
Guadalupe Spiny Softshell - Black surrounded white tubercles on carapace. Nueces and Guadalupe- San Antonio drainage systems, Texas.
Texas Spiny Softshell - Spots on carapace. Rio Grande drainage in Texas and New Mexico, and the Gila-Colorado River system in Arizona, New Mexico and extreme sw. Utah.

Breeding May-August. Cavity dug in sun exposed sand bank. 4-32 eggs in a clutch. Egss 29mm (1 1/8") in diameter. Can nest multiple times in a season Hatch August-October.

Habitat Creeks, ponds and large rivers & lakes.

Range Central United States. Also Montana, Quebec, Delaware.

Discussion Lives up to 50 years. Fast on land and in water. Basks on sunny spots, normally on logs and other debris. Diet includes insects.