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Commonly Asked Questions

Appears in Georgia Aquarium's:
  • Freshwater Turtles Habitat (River Scout)

Range / Habitat

  • Occurs in North America from east Virginia to east Georgia. There are isolated colonies in West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee.
  • Found in streams and rivers with clear water and substantial vegetation, along with springs, lakes, swamps and ponds in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain. 

Physical Characteristics

  • River cooters are identifiable by a C-shaped figure on the second costal scute of its carapace, or shell.
  • Concentric circles appear on the carapace in addition to the typical C-shaped figure.
  • Eyes are joined by five light stripes.
  • Marginal scutes of the turtle are characterized by O-shaped spots.
  • The lower jaw of a cooter is flat.
  • Carapace is commonly 9-12 inches (23-30.6 cm) long with a maximum size of 12.75 inches (32.4 cm).

Diet / Feeding

  • This species is omnivorous, but aquatic vegetation is a primary food source.

Reproduction / Growth

  • Hatchling carapace ranges in length of 1.375 to 1.625 inches (3.5-4.1 cm).
  • Female produces 1-6 clutches of 4-30 eggs per year.
  • Incubation of the eggs takes 70-96 days.
  • Hybridization between similar species is common in shared range.

Conservation Status

  • “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.
  • Faces population declines due to river pollution and human consumption.

Additional Information

  • Subspecies include Suwanee and hieroglyphic river cooters.
  • The subspecies share large sections of the overall species’ range, so individuals in those areas can have highly variable physical characteristics.


Conant, Roger and Joseph T. Collins. A Field Guide to Reptiles & Amphibians: Eastern/Central North America. Pgs. 174-178.