The Eastern river cooter is only found in a small range in North America. Hybridization between similar turtle species is common in shared areas.
  • Size

    9-12 inches (23-30.5 cm)
  • Diet

  • Range

    North America
  • Habitat

    Streams and rivers with clear water and substantial vegetation

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.
  • The eyes are joined by five light stripes.
  • The marginal scutes of the turtle are characterized by O-shaped spots.
  • The lower jaw of a cooter is flat.
  • The carapace is commonly 9-12 inches (23-30.5 cm) long with a maximum size of 12.75 inches (32.4 cm).

Animal Fact

The eastern river cooter faces population declines due to river pollution.

Diet / Feeding

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

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 Plains.

Reproduction & Growth

  • Hatchling carapace ranges in length from 1.4-1.6 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 ranges.

Conservation Status

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

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.


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