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Posts Tagged ‘Kinosternon subrubrum’

No matter how many times that I see an Eastern Mud Turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum), I am always shocked by the disproportionately large size of its head. When I spotted this one on Tuesday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I remember wondering if it was physically possible for the turtle to withdraw its head into its shell. The turtle was standing in the middle of a wide trail, apparently in the process of crossing the trail. Although the mud turtle seemed to be fully aware of my presence, it appeared to be totally unfazed and merely gave me a sidewards glance as it waited for me to pass.

Given the circumstances in which we now live, I think we all could use some of the patience and imperturbability of this little creature.

 

 

Eastern Mud Turtle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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On Friday I spotted this small turtle as it was crossing one of the trails at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. It is not a species that I see very often, but I think it is an Eastern Mud Turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum) Appropriately enough its back half appears to be covered in mud.

I generally think of turtles as being slow-moving, but this one was scrambling so quickly across the trail that it was a challenge to keep in within the camera’s viewfinder after I had zoomed in all the way with my telephoto lens. In case you are curious, Eastern Mud Turtles are only about four inches in length (10 cm).

 

Eastern Mud Turtle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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As I was exploring Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge earlier this week, I stumbled upon this cute little Southeastern Mud Turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum subrubrum). It looks like the little turtle had attempted to withdraw its head into its shell, but it does not quite fit.

I’ve only spotted this species of turtle, also known an Eastern Mud Turtle, a few times, so I decided to do a little research. Among other things, I learned on the website of the Virginia Herpetological Society that Southeastern Mud Turtles are ominvores, eating, among other things, insects, crustaceans, mollusks, amphibians, carrion, and aquatic vegetation.

Here are a few more fun facts about these turtles from the same website: “Southeastern Mud Turtles are bottom walkers, spending most of their active time in water on the bottom. A substantial but unknown portion of their annual activity period is terrestrial. They seldom bask. Southeastern mud turtles are pugnacious when caught and many will try to bite, causing a minor wound from the curved beak.”

I am glad that I felt no desire to pick up the turtle.

Southeastern Mud Turtle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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I had no idea what kind of turtle this was when I first encountered it sitting in the middle of a trail at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge this past Monday. Most of the time that I see turtles they are in the water or are sunning themselves at the water’s edge. This turtle was small and dark and lacked distinctive markings that would have aided me in identifying it.

I noticed that the turtle had a really large head and what looked to be sharp claws, so I initially thought it might be a baby snapping turtle. Uncertain of the identification, I posted a photo to a Facebook group for Nature Lovers of Virginia. The consensus of the group is that this is Eastern Mud Turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum), a new species for me.

I did a little checking on this species in Wikipedia and learned that mating occurs in the early spring followed by egg laying in May to early June. As was this case with a snapping turtle that I recently saw on dry land, I wonder if this turtle was looking for a place to lay its eggs.

Eastern Mud Turtle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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