21 Types of Turtles in Georgia (With Pictures)


Turtles in Georgia

Named after the King of England (King George II), Georgia is a beautiful state that provides a home to a large number of animals, birds, and insects. The state has an abundant population of reptiles as well. But what do we know about the species of turtles that are found in Georgia?

In this article, we will learn more about the 21 types of turtles that inhabit Georgia.

 

Softshell Turtles

Spiny Softshell Turtle (Apalone spinifera)

Spiny Softshell Turtle (Apalone spinifera)

Diet – carnivore
Conservation status – fairly common within their natural range
Carapace length – 7-21 inches in adults
Weight – about 26.45 pounds
Lifespan – 45-50 years

Named after the small, spiny projections at one end of their carapace, the Spiny Softshell Turtles are the largest freshwater turtles you can find in North America. They have a characteristic leathery carapace, which is moderately flexible.

Spiny Softshell Turtles have webbed feet with three claws on them and a fleshy, elongated nose. The color of their carapace varies from brown to olive, while the plastron is either white or yellow. The adults display sexual dimorphism, wherein the females are larger in size than their male counterparts.

Their carapace also undergoes a change as they age, becoming heavily blotched or darker in color. The males, on the other hand, retain the same color as long as they live.

 

Florida Softshell Turtle (Apalone ferox)

Florida Softshell Turtle (Apalone ferox)

Diet – carnivore
Conservation status – common and widespread within range
Carapace length – 5.9-29.9 inches in adults; 1.6 inches in hatchlings
Weight – 5.90 pounds in males; 14.66 pounds in females
Lifespan – 20-30 years

The Florida Softshell Turtles are a species of Softshell Turtles that are endemic to the south-eastern parts of the United States. These turtles have a cartilaginous carapace, webbed feet, a nose shaped like a snorkel, and a flattened body that is shaped like a pancake.

Out of the two Softshell Turtles found in Georgia, these are the darker ones with a dark brown carapace. Their plastron is creamy white in color. They display sexual dimorphism, with the females being about 3 to 5 times larger in size than their male counterparts but possessing a thinner tail than them.

 

Mud Turtles

Eastern Musk Turtle (Sternotheros odoratus)

Eastern Musk Turtle (Sternotheros odoratus)

Diet – omnivore
Conservation status – fairly common
Carapace length – 2-5.5 inches in adults; 0.7-1 inch in hatchlings
Weight – 1.98-2.86 pounds
Lifespan – 30-40 years

Also referred to as “Common Musk Turtle”, the Eastern Musk Turtles are a small species of turtles belonging to the family of Kinosternidae. These turtles are also known as “Stinkpots” because they release a foul, almost musky odor in order to send their predators away.

The carapace of the Eastern Musk Turtles has a high dome and is either black, grey, or brown in color. They have an unusually long neck with small feet, with their plastron being considerably smaller than the carapace.

A single yellow stripe runs along their neck, which is often used as an identification mark. Eastern Musk turtles display sexual dimorphism, with the females being larger in size, while the males possess a longer tail with a spike protruding at the end.

 

Eastern Mud Turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum)

Eastern Mud Turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum)

Diet – carnivore
Conservation status – widespread within the natural range
Carapace length – 7.6-10.2 inches in adults
Weight – 0.19-0.57 pounds
Lifespan – 30-50 years

Being of the most commonly found turtle of its family, the Eastern Mud Turtles are a small species of turtle that are rightfully called “Common Mud Turtle”.

Eastern Mud Turtles are difficult to recognize due to their small size as well as the lack of any distinguishing feature visible on their body. They have a carapace that is smaller than their plastron in size. Their keelless carapace is either yellow or brown in color, devoid of any spots, stripes, or patterns.

The plastron, on the other hand, is covered in a dark pattern. The tail and limbs of both sexes are greyish in color, along with a yellowish-grey chin and throat.

 

Loggerhead Musk Turtle (Sternotheros minor)

Loggerhead Musk Turtle (Sternotheros minor)

Diet – carnivore
Conservation status – insufficient data
Carapace length – 3-5 inches in adults
Weight – 1.32 pounds
Lifespan – 20 years

Endemic to the southern parts of the United States, the Loggerhead Musk Turtles are named after their head that is unusually large in comparison to the other members of their family (KinosternidaeOpens in a new tab.).

Loggerhead Musk Turtles have a yellowish-green carapace with a slightly lighter plastron. They have barbels on their chin while the head and limbs are spotted with small, yellow spots. These turtles are known to inhabit clean freshwater bodies such as springs and streams.

 

Striped Mud Turtle (Kinosternon baurii)

Striped Mud Turtle (Kinosternon baurii)

Diet – omnivore
Conservation status – fairly common
Carapace length – 3-4.5 inches in adults
Weight – 0.017-0.057 pounds
Lifespan – 50 years

Named after the German Herpetologist, Georg Baur, the Striped Mud Turtles, are a small species of mud turtles that are native to the south-eastern regions of the United States. They have a carapace that is smoother than the other mud turtles.

The color of their carapace is brown, with characteristic light-colored stripes running on it. A pale stripe runs between their eyes as well. The rest of their head and neck, along with their limbs, are all a slightly darker shade of brown in color.

 

Emydids

Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata)

Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata)

Diet – omnivore
Conservation status – endangered due to habitat loss
Carapace length – 3-4 inches in adults; 0.98-1.22 inches in hatchlings
Weight – 0.49-0.74 pounds
Lifespan – 25-50 years

Being the only species of their genus, the Spotted Turtles are a small species of semi-aquatic turtles that inhabit flooded forests, marshes, woodland streams, bogs, and wet meadows.

As their name suggests, these turtles have a greyish black carapace on which small yellow spots are evenly distributed. These spots can also be seen on their head, neck, and limbs.

They display sexual dimorphism, with the females possessing a flat plastron and a thinner, shorter tail, while the males have a concave plastron with a long and thick tail.

 

Common Box Turtle (Terrapene Carolina)

Common Box Turtle (Terrapene Carolina)

Diet – omnivore
Conservation status – species of special concern
Carapace length – 4.5-6 inches in adults; 1.5 inches in hatchlings
Weight – 0.99-1.98 pounds
Lifespan – 138 years

As their name suggests, the Common Box Turtles are the most widespread species of box turtles. In North America, they can be found throughout the eastern parts of the United States as well as in Mexico.

These turtles have a unique shell structure with a high-domed carapace and a hinged plastron, allowing them to seal themselves inside safely when they feel threatened.

Both their carapace as well as plastron are dark brown in color, heavily marked with blotches, spots, stripes, and other patterns. Both sexes are sexually dimorphic, with the males having shorter but stockier claws and a thick, long tail. While the males have red irises, the irises of the females are yellowish-brown in color.

 

Bog Turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii)

Bog Turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii)

Diet – herbivore
Conservation status – a critically endangered species
Carapace length – 3.7 inches in males; 3.5 inches in females; 0.82-1.1 inches in hatchlings
Weight – 0.24 pounds
Lifespan – 20-30 years

Being the smallest turtle species in North America, the Bog Turtles are semi-aquatic turtles that are endemic to the eastern parts of the United States. Although they are diurnal, you can rarely encounter them since they spend most of their time in their burrow.

Bog Turtles have an entirely dark brown or black body except for two bright yellow or orange spot on their face (one on each side) that is used as their identification mark.

Their carapace has a roughly rectangular shape that grows narrower on both ends of their body. Although the males are larger in size and possess a wider head, the shell of the females is higher and wider.

 

Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta)

Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta)

Diet – omnivore
Conservation status – fairly common within natural range
Carapace length – 4-10 inches in adults
Weight – 0.66 pounds in males; 1.10 pounds in females
Lifespan – 30 years

Named after their distinctly colored head, the Painted Turtles are one of the most widespread turtles endemic to North America.

The face of these turtles is dark in color with contrasting yellow lines running all over it. They also have bright yellow spots right behind their eyes. While their carapace is almost as dark as their face, the plastron is either yellow or red in color and has dark markings at the center.

They are sexually dimorphic, with the females being bigger in size than their male counterparts and possessing a higher carapace. On the other hand, the males have longer foreclaws and a long, thick tail.

 

Yellow-Bellied Slider (Trachemys scripta scripta)

Yellow-Bellied Slider (Trachemys scripta scripta)

Diet – omnivore
Conservation status – common and widespread within the natural range
Carapace length – 5-9 inches in males; 8-13 inches in females
Weight – 0.016-0.030 pounds
Lifespan – about 30 years

Endemic to the south-eastern parts of the United States, the Yellow-bellied Sliders are a species of pond sliders that have a wide range of habitats, including wetlands, swamps, ponds, and rivers.

As their name implies, the plastron of the Yellow-bellied Sliders is yellow in color, with a dark brown or black carapace. The color of their skin is a dark shade of olive green with a distinct S-shaped mark on their face.

As these turtles grow older, the color of their carapace darkens. They display sexual dimorphism, with the females being larger than males.

 

Florida Red-Bellied Cooter (Pseudemys nelsoni)

Florida Red-Bellied Cooter (Pseudemys nelsoni)

Diet – herbivore
Conservation status – fairly common
Carapace length – 8-14 inches in adults; 1.1-1.49 inches in hatchlings
Weight – 3.96-8.81 pounds
Lifespan – 40 years

The Florida Red-bellied Cooters are a species of river turtles that are endemic to Florida as well as the southern parts of Georgia. These turtles are named after George Nelson, the American Biologist.

These turtles have a dark body with a distinct red tinge on their plastron that is used to distinguish them from the other cooters. Moreover, they also possess two cusps on their upper beak that is rarely seen in turtles. They display sexual dimorphism, with the females being larger as well as heavier than their male counterparts.

 

Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin)

Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin)

Diet – omnivore
Conservation status – vulnerable due to habitat loss
Carapace length – 5.1 inches in males; 7.5 inches in females
Weight – 0.66 pounds in males; 1.10 pounds in females
Lifespan – about 20-40 years

Often simply referred to as “Terrapin”, the Diamondback Terrapins are a vulnerable species of turtle endemic to the eastern and southern parts of the United States and Bermuda. These turtles primarily inhabit the brackish coastal tidal marshes.

Diamondback Terrapins have a wedge-like carapace on which diamond-shaped patterns are drawn, which lends them their name.

They display variety in terms of coloration; they can either be white, yellow, grey, or brown in color, with their carapace ranging from grey to brown. The male Diamond Terrapins are much smaller in size than their female counterparts.

 

Barbour’s Map Turtle (Graptemys barbouri)

Barbour’s Map Turtle (Graptemys barbouri)

Diet – omnivore
Conservation status – vulnerable due to habitat loss
Carapace length – 3.5-5.5 inches in males; 6-12.5 inches in females
Weight – 0.30-0.88 pounds in males; 1.44 -5.51 pounds in females
Lifespan – 20-30 years

This turtle species is named after Thomas Barbour, the American herpetologist, Barbour’s Map Turtles are a species of map turtles that are endemic to the south-eastern parts of the United States.

These turtles have a small, olive green carapace with black-tipped spines growing over it. Yellow stripes can be seen all over their head, neck, and limbs. They are sexually dimorphic as well, with the females being larger in size and having an enormous head.

 

Sea Turtles

Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)

Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)

Diet – carnivore
Conservation status – a vulnerable species
Carapace length – 3.3-5.7 feet in adults; 2.41 inches in hatchlings
Weight – 551-1543 pounds
Lifespan – 50-100 years

The Leatherback Sea Turtles are known for being the largest species of turtles alive today. Weighing about 550 kilograms on average, they are also the heaviest turtles, and fourth-heaviest reptiles, with only three true crocodiles being heavier than them.

Just as their name suggests, these sea turtles have a carapace that is not bony like the other turtles but is covered with skin instead. Their carapace is greyish black in color with occasional white blotches, while their underparts are lighter in color. These turtles are also referred to as “Lute Turtle” and “Leathery Turtle”.

 

Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Diet – herbivore
Conservation status – an endangered species
Carapace length – 31-44 inches in adults; 8-10 inches in hatchlings
Weight – 149-419 pounds
Lifespan – 80 years

The Green Sea Turtles are a species of large marine turtles also known by the names of “Black Turtle” and “Pacific Green Turtle”.

The “green” in their name is not symbolic of their carapace color but is derived from the color of the fat that is stored beneath that carapace. Their carapace is shaped like a teardrop and is either black or dark olive in color.

These migratory turtles have a pair of large flippers that appear more like paddles, enabling them to swim efficiently. Of all the sea turtles found in Georgia, they are the only ones that are pure herbivores, their diet mainly comprising of seagrasses.

 

Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta)

Diet – omnivore
Conservation status – a vulnerable species
Carapace length – 28-37 inches in adults; 1.8 inches in hatchlings
Weight – 176-440 pounds
Lifespan – 47-67 years

Found in the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans, the Loggerhead Sea Turtles are known for being the largest hard-shelled turtles on Earth.

These turtles display sexual dimorphism, wherein the females possess a larger plastron than their male counterparts but have a thinner tail and shorter claws. The males also possess a wider head and carapace.

The color of their head and carapace range from yellowish-orange to reddish-brown, while the plastron is a much paler shade of yellow. Their neck and sides are brown in color.

 

Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)

Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)

Diet – omnivore
Conservation status – a critically endangered species
Carapace length – 3 feet in adults; 11.8-27.5 inches in juveniles
Weight – 176 pounds
Lifespan – 30-50 years

The Hawksbill Sea Turtles are large marine turtles, and they are spread in all parts of the world. These turtles have a flattened body, thick carapace, and paddle-like flippers that are characteristic of most sea turtles.

However, what sets them apart from the others is their mouth, which is curved like a beak and has a sharp edge, due to which they receive their name. Another distinguishing feature they have is a pair of claws on both their flippers.

Hawksbill Sea Turtles have an amber-colored carapace with irregular stripes running all over it. The adolescent turtles have a heart-shaped carapace with elongates as they mature. The adults are sexually dimorphic, with the males having a brighter carapace, a thicker tail, and longer claws than their female counterparts.

 

Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys kempii)

Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys kempii)

Diet – carnivore
Conservation status – a critically endangered species
Carapace length – 23-28 inches in adults
Weight – 79-99 pounds
Lifespan – 45-5 years

Also referred to as the “Atlantic Ridley Sea Turtle”, the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles are known for being the rarest sea turtles on Earth. These turtles are closely related to the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea).

Named after Richard Moore Kemp, the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles are the smallest sea turtles in the world. They have a dorsoventrally depressed body with an oval-shaped carapace.

These turtles change their color while growing up; while the hatchlings have a dark purple carapace and plastron, the adults have whitish or yellowish-green plastron with an olive-grey carapace.

 

Snapping Turtles

Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)

Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)

Diet – omnivore
Conservation status – fairly common within the natural range
Carapace length – 9.8-18.5 inches in adults
Weight – 22 pounds in males; 13 pounds in females
Lifespan – 15-20 years

Just as their name suggests, the Common Snapping Turtles are the most widespread species of the Snapping Turtles, with their range extending all over the United States as well as in the south-eastern parts of Canada. They are believed to be the heaviest freshwater turtles found in the United States and tend to grow in weight all their life.

Common Snapping Turtles have a strong jaw shaped like a beak, and a mobile head and neck. Their carapace is brown and has a rough and ridged texture. They display sexual dimorphism, with the males being larger in size than their female counterparts.

 

Tortoise

Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)

Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)

Diet – herbivore
Conservation status – vulnerable due to habitat loss
Carapace length – 6-9.5 inches in adults
Weight – about 4.4-13 pounds
Lifespan – 60 years

Endemic to the southeastern parts of the United States, the Gopher Tortoise belongs to the genus that contains tortoises that are only endemic to North America. These tortoises are declared to be the state reptile of Georgia.

Gopher Tortoises are large, terrestrial tortoises that tend to live in burrows, which is why they have scales on their forelegs.

They have a brown body and carapace, with the plastron being slightly lighter in shade. They are sexually dimorphic, with the females having a flat plastron while the males possess a concave one.

 

Types of Turtles in Georgia (bottom line)

Of all the turtle species of Georgia, the turtles belonging to the family Emydidae have heavily populated the state. Among the other families are the Softshell Turtles, Mud Turtles, and Sea Turtles. However, you can only find one member of the Snapping Turtle family and one Tortoise here. The next time you come across a turtle, you would be able to recognize them by their appearance.

 

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