All information found on this site falls under the INHS's Internet License Agreement.
Testudines Apalone spinifera -- Spiny 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 margin of carapace decked with small spines or tubercles; conspicuously patterned feet; snout squared off with horizontal ridge projecting from median septum into each nostril.
Similar Species: Smooth softshell.
Subspecies: Eastern spiny softshell, A. s. spinifera.
Description: Large (up to 38 cm CL) turtle with carapace pattern of dark circles and spots in males and juveniles; larger, irregular blotches in females. A pair of dark-bordered light stripes runs from snout to eyes; another pair of similar stripes extends posteriorly from the eye onto the neck; a third pair of short light stripes extends back from mandible. Male smaller with rough sandpaperlike carapace, and conspicuously longer, thicker tail than female.
Habitat: Rivers, backwaters, lakes, and ponds.
Natural History: Often seen basking on logs. Readily bites. Its sharp-edged jaws, hidden beneath the fleshy lips, can deliver a painful wound. Feeds on aquatic insects, crustaceans, and fish. May actively forage for prey or bury itself in the sand to wait for unwary animals to come within striking range. Female nests in sand or mud from mid-May into July, lays an average of 18 round, brittle-shelled eggs (ca. 28 mm) per clutch, up to four clutches per year.
Status: Less susceptible to siltation and pollution than the smooth softshell. Remains common in most river systems within the state.