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Testudines Apalone mutica -- Smooth Softshell
Purple shade indicates vouchered specimens. Light blue (cyan)
shade indicates photographic records. Yellow shade indicates verified
sighting. Slanted hatch indicates pre-1980 records only
NOTE: Not all specimens upon which these maps are based have been verified.
Key Characters: Anterior edge of carapace lacking spines or tubercles; snout with rounded tip; nostrils lacking horizontal septal projections.
Similar Species: Spiny softshell.
Subspecies: Midland smooth softshell, A. m. mutica.
Description: Medium-sized (up to 28 cm CL) turtle with tan, brown, or olive carapace with light posterior border. Carapace irregularly patterned with small dark spots or dashes that expand into blotches or mottling in large females. Plastron white to cream. Paired, dark-bordered, white stripes extend across snout to eyes. A similar but expanded pair of stripes extend posteriorly from eyes onto the neck. Feet neither strongly streaked nor patterned. Male smaller than female and has a larger, thicker tail with vent opening beyond rear edge of carapace.
Habitat: Rivers and large streams having sand substrate, bars, and banks. Unusual in lakes.
Natural History: Males and juveniles congregate in sandy shallows to bury in the substrate and bask along exposed banks. Female is more solitary, wanders more, and utilizes deeper water than male. Relatively nonagressive. The diet includes a variety of animal foods but especially aquatic insects. Female lays multiple clutches of 6 to 26 round, brittle-shelled eggs (ca. 22 mm diameter) in sand banks or bars from late May into July.
Status: Unlisted, but populations appear to be declining in much of the state. Agricultural runoff, siltation, and pollution are probable causes.