Kingdom - Animalia

Phylum - Chordata

Class - Reptilia

Order - Testudines

Families in Illinois

  • Emydidae
  • Trionychidae
  • Chelydridae
  • Kinosternidae
  • Snapping Turtle

  • Pond Slider

  • Pond Slider and Painted Turtle

  • Painted Turtle

  • Ornate Box Turtle

  • Map Turtle

  • Eastern Box Turtle

  • Blanding's Turtle

  • Alligator Snapping Turtle

  • Common Snapping Turtle

  • Eastern Mud Turtle

Turtles have:

  • a shell that completely covers both of their limb girdles
  • no teeth on their jaws
  • an external ear supported by a large, semicircular quadrate.


The two parts of the turtle shell are the carapace which includes the vertebrae and ribs and the plastron made up of the clavicles (collar bones) and abdominal ribs.



There are approximately 330 species of turtle in the world, 17 of which are found in Illinois:

Emydidae - Pond and Box Turtles

  • twelve marginal scutes on each side
  • shell has no inframarginal scutes (plastron connects directly to the marginals)
  • found in North America, northern South America, northern Africa, Europe, and Asia

Painted Turtle Chrysemys picta 
Spotted Turtle Clemmys guttata
Blanding’s Turtle Emydoidea blandingii
Northern Map Turtle Graptemys geographica 
Ouachita Map Turtle Graptemys ouachitensis 
False Map Turtle Graptemys pseudogeographica 
River Cooter Pseudemys concinna 
Eastern Box Turtle Terrapene carolina 
Ornate Box Turtle Terrapene ornata 
Pond Slider Trachemys scripta 


Kinosternidae - Mud Turtles

  • eleven marginal scutes on each side
  • inframarginal scute connects carapace to plastron
  • found in North and South America
  • capable of releasing a foul smelling musk

Yellow Mud Turtle Kinosternon flavescens 
Eastern Mud Turtle Kinosternon subrubrum 
Eastern Musk Turtle Sternotherus odoratus 





Chelydridae - Snapping Turtles

  • large heads and limbs that can not be pulled into shell fully
  • long tails
  • strong jaws with hook on upper jaw
  • reduced plastron
  • found in North America, South America, and Southeast Asia

Snapping Turtle Chelydra serpentina
Alligator Snapping Turtle Macroclemys temminckii





Trionichyidae - Softshelled Turtles

  • carapace lacks scutes
  • the bone is covered by leathery skin
  • lie in wait predators, they spend long periods underwater
  • long necks allow them to breathe at the surface while their body is submerged
  • found in North America, South America, Asia, and Africa

Smooth Softshell Apalone mutica 
Spiny Softshell  Apalone spinifera