Spiny Soft Shelled Turtle Guide


Scientific Name And Family

Trionychidae; Apalone spiniferus ssp.

Features To Identify The Species

Underside of the carapace is a light color, not contrasting with plastral color. If viewed from above, carapace is nearly round. Dark spots are present on some turtles (subspecies). Subspecies have small spines on neck.

Origin And Range

Much of eastern United States. Many of these turtles in captivity are captive hatched.

Similar Species

Florida Soft Shelled Turtle is very similar but is more dark in color and more of an oval shell shape.

Size For A Adult

Females tend to be around 15 inches, while males tend to be around half that size (7.5 inches).

Life Span

These turtles have been known to live well over 25 years.

While babies it is fine to keep a few in a 10-15 gallon tank but as an adult (single) a 75-100 is recommended.

Terrarium Type

A filtered aquarium with a water temperature of 70º or 80º is perfect for these turtles. Include a sloping ramp for easy basking (driftwood, and rocks do quite well). Some owners of these turtles prefer to keep the water lower so the turtle can extend its neck to breathe while on the bottom of the aquarium. Have several inches of sand (desert sand NOT play sand), as these turtles like to bury themselves under sand.

Social Structure

These turtles are able to be in a community as ling as the habitat is not overly crowded.


This specie of soft shell turtle eats mostly animals. Minnows, insects, worms, and prepared foods such as pellet foods are a great source of food for this turtle.

Common problems

If there is sharp sand in the tank or dirty poor quality water, fungus can appear on skin and shell of the turtle.

See Also


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