Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Eastern Mud Turtle

The mud turtle is a small, nondescript reptile, measuring 3-4 inches (7.5-10 cm). The carapace (upper shell) is olive to dark brown to almost black, patternless, smooth and keelless. It has only 11 marginal scutes (plates) rather than the 12 found on most turtles. The plastron (lower shell) is yellow to brown, double-hinged, with 11 plates. Males have a well-developed, blunt spine at the tip of the tail and rough scaly patches on the inside of the hind legs.

Most of the life history information is based on studies conducted at the southern end of the range. Breeding occurs soon after the turtles leave hibernation, which in New York occurs from late April to May. In June, the female digs a 3-5 inch cavity in vegetative debris or in sandy loam soil, where she deposits 2-6 eggs. In the south, three clutches are typically laid each year, but in New York, one clutch is most likely. The eggs incubate for an average of 76 days, but may overwinter in the nest. Muskrat and beaver lodges are occasionally used as nest sites. Females reportedly reach sexual maturity in 5-8 years; males require only 4-7 years. In New York, though, sexual maturity may take 8-11 years.

Source: Wikipedia


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