This is a large, flattened turtle whose carapace (top of shell) and plastron (bottom of shell) are covered with skin. This skin usually has a sandpaper-like texture and is tough and leathery. Coloration ranges from olive-gray to yellowish-brown with spots or blotches on the carapace. Young individuals often have well-defined round spots on their shell. They have long necks and a long, thin nose, which they can use like a snorkel to breathe.
Ten Facts about Spiny Softshell
- Adults range from 7-21 inches (18-53.3 cm) in females, and 5-9 inches (12.5-23.5 cm) in males.
- Spiny softshells are carnivorous. Their preferred prey includes fish, crayfish, and other aquatic invertebrates.
- The Spiny Softshell occurs in southern Quebec, and, discontinuously, in eastern and southwestern Ontario. The range extends west to Wisconsin and south through the north central United States to the Tennessee River.
- Spiny softshells generally lay clutches of 12-18 round, brittle eggs in the early summer.
- Young emerge about 80 days later, and are usually 1-1.5 inches (3-4 cm) across.
- The spiny softshell mates with other turtles between ages 8 and 10.
- They can live up to 50 years.
- Sex is not determined by temperature variations in the spiny soft shell turtle.
- Predators includes environmental contaminants, and the accidental taking of turtles by the commercial fishery.
- Softshells often bask on sandbars or logs or lie buried in sand in shallow water, using their long necks to reach the surface to breathe.