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Smooth Softshell Apalone mutica


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Smooth Softshell, Gulf Coast subspecies, juvenile
credit: Leonardo Sologuren

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Alternate name: Smooth Softshell Turtle

Family: Trionychidae, Softshell Turtles view all from this family

Description Flat carapace covered by leathery skin. Olive-brown. Small dots and dashes cover carapace. Females have mottling. Round nostrils.

Dimensions 11.1-17.8m. (4 3/8-7"). Females: 17-35.6cm. (6 5/8-14")

Subspecies Midland Smooth Softshell - snout has pale stripes. Dark bordered pale stripe behind eyes. Pennsylvania to Wisconsin, North Dakota, Alabama to Texas.
Gulf Coast Smooth Softshell - Dark bordered pale stripe behind eyes. Escambia River system, Alabama. Florida panhandle to Pearl River, Mississippi, Louisiana.

Breeding Mature at 7 years. Lays 1-3 clutches of 4-33 eggs per clutch in May-July. Digs a cavity 15-23cm (6-9") deep. Hind legs dig and then arranges eggs within. Hatch after 2-2 1/2 months.

Habitat Muddy bottoms of fast current streams and rivers.

Range Ohio, Mississippi, Missouri, Arkansas & Alabama river systems.

Discussion Aquatic. Always within 3m (10') of waterline. Retreats to water if threatened. Crayfish, invertebrates and small frogs/fish make up main diet.