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Species Description

Eastern Mud Turtle

Kinosternon subrubrum

Species Image


Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Family: Kinosternidae


The shell can be black, olive, brown, or yellowish. The skin is brown, and the plastron is brown or yellowish. This is a small freshwater turtle. Adult Eastern Mud Turtles average from 7 - 10 cm (2.8 - 3.9 in) in carapace length. The plastron has both a front and rear hinge.

Life Cycle

Breeding occurs from March through May. From 2 - 8 eggs are laid during May and June in a chamber excavated in loose soil. The eggs hatch in August and September. Hatchlings have an orange-red plastron which fades in color as the turtles mature.

Natural History

Mud turtles eat both plant and animal matter, including crayfish, insects, mollusks, amphibians, and aquatic vegetation. Preferred habitats are shallow, slow moving waters such as swamps, creeks, lakes, ponds, and freshwater and brackish marshes, with aquatic plants and a mud or organic bottom. Like other members of this family, the Eastern Mud Turtle is a bottom walker, spending most of its aquatic activity time on the bottom. A good portion of its annual activity cycle is terrestrial, however, so it is not uncommon to find this turtle crossing roads where no water is in sight. Predators include raccoons, crows, eagles, and humans.


Eastern Mud Turtle Region Map The Eastern Mud Turtle inhabits the lowlands of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Coastal Plain from New Jersey south through Florida and west to Texas and Oklahoma, ascending the Mississippi River Valley north to southern Illinois and Indiana.

Conservation Status

This is a common species and populations are considered stable.

Similar Species

The Striped Mud Turtle has a striped head and carapace. Musk Turtles have smaller plastrons and only one hinge.