Monday, July 1, 2013

Readers Write In: What is this North Carolina Turtle?

Dear David, 

I get the feeling that snakes are more your specialty, but I thought you might be able to ID this girl for me. The flare at the edge of the carapace made me think River Cooter...but she was not as huge as some I have seen; her face lacked the big patch of yellow that I think would indicate a Yellow-bellied Slider. Her plastron was solid yellow...without a single blotch of any other color...I am generally confused about how to positively ID these turtles. The giant ones are obvious...but I would love to know a bit more about how to ID them reliably. She was located about twenty yards from Morgan Creek in Chapel Hill, NC.

Best Regards,

Mary S.
Chapel Hill, NC

    Okay turtleheads, we are not often asked to identify these animals. Consider yourselves challenged; are you only able to identify snakes? 

    Mary has identified two of the likely suspects, but in a follow-up e-mail she brings up the very real possibility that this animal is actually a Florida Cooter and adds that the turtle was found not far from non-riverine wetlands, their preferred habitats. While we are at it, let's also throw the Redbelly Turtle into the mix.

    Readers, I believe in you. Please identify this turtle (hint: it's one of the four species named above). Bonus points will be awarded for describing how you ruled out some or all of the other suspects.

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