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Eastern Red-bellied Turtle Pseudemys rubriventris (Chrysemys rubriventris)


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Eastern Red-bellied Turtle
credit: Oxlamb

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Alternate name: Northern Red-bellied Turtle, Plymouth Red-bellied Turtle

Family: Emydidae, Pond and Box Turtles view all from this family

Description Brown/black carapace, concave scutes. Each scute has red bar. Stripe on head. Red plastron, scutes lightly marked. Straight claws on front feet of males.

Dimensions 24.4-40cm. (10-15 3/4")

Endangered Status The Plymouth Red-bellied Turtle, a population of the Eastern Red-bellied Turtle (sometimes known as P. r. bangsi), is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as endangered throughout its range in Massachusetts. Plymouth Red-bellied Turtles are very vulnerable to predation when young. Skunks, raccoons, birds, and fish eat the eggs and/or the hatchlings. The population of these turtles was reduced to between 200 and 300 individuals in the 1980s. Currently, measures are being taken to preserve the turtle’s habitat and protect the nests. Several “head start” programs are in place in Massachusetts to help raise hatchlings until they are big enough to survive on their own.

Breeding June/July. 8-20 eggs in a clutch, eggs 35mm (1 3/8") long. Laid in 4" cavity. Hatch after 10-15 weeks. Sometimes don't hatch till following year.

Habitat Lakes, streams, ponds, rivers, marshes. Deep water in New England.

Range New Jersey to North Carolina coastal plan. Potomac river. Also Massachusets Plymouth County and Naushon Island.

Discussion Bask near deep water. Dive in if threatened. Diet includes snails, crayfish, underwater vegetation and tadpoles of frogs. Habitat threatened by draining of wetlands.