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Turtles in Illinois (17 Different Species)

There are 17 species of turtles found among the prairies, swamps, and bodies of water in Illinois. Some turtles are quite common, such as the Common Snapping turtle and Painted turtle, the latter of which is the State Reptile of Illinois.

Some are unfortunately endangered or vulnerable like the tiny, semi-aquatic Spotted turtle and the Eastern River Cooter. Many different variables affect the populations of North American turtles such as habitat destruction, poaching, road mortality, predation, and slow reproduction rates.

Maybe you will see some of these turtles where you live or come across them while spending time near the water. Like all wildlife, it’s better to only observe and not interfere with turtles unless you are trying to help them across the road where they often do not make it.

We’ll touch on that later, but for now, here are all the species of turtles you can find in the Land of Lincoln.

Turtles in Illinois

1) Blanding’s Turtle

Blandings turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) perched on debree with a painted turtle behind it
Blandings turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) perched on debree with a painted turtle behind it
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Emydidae
  • Scientific Name: Emydoidea blandingii
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: 5 to 8 inches
  • Life Span: Up to 80 years
  • Average Price Range: $300 to $450
  • Conservation Status: Endangered

Blanding’s turtles are named after Physician and avid Naturalist William Blanding. He discovered the species in Illinois in 1830, and the specimen is still on display at the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences.

These beautiful turtles have dark oval shells covered in faint yellow speckles. Their plastrons (lower part of the shell) are yellow, have various black patches, and are hinged. The Blanding’s turtle cannot completely close itself in its shell like box turtles, but it can partially close the bottom half.

They have a distinct yellow chin and throat that makes these turtles instantly recognizable. Their limbs, head, and upper side of the neck are the same color as their carapace (upper shell) and have yellowish spots.

You may find these turtles in the northern half of the state, but sightings are rare as they are endangered in the state, and populations are scattered. Their preferred habitat includes marshes, bogs, lakes, and streams. The development and draining of these areas is driving their decline.

Blanding’s turtles are very long-lived turtles. They are thought to live more than 100 years and don’t show signs of aging. Even turtles well into their 70s and 80s still reproduce and show no signs of slowing down.

Though mostly aquatic, this turtle also spends time on land searching for food. When exploring the land they won’t travel far from the safety of the water. 

Blanding’s turtles are omnivorous, mainly eating crayfish, frogs, tadpoles, earthworms, and water-borne invertebrates. They also occasionally eat plants and berries.

Box Turtles in Illinois

2) Eastern Box Turtle

Eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) in grass
Eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) in grass
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Emydidae
  • Scientific Name: Terrapene carolina carolina
  • Other Names: Land Turtle
  • Adult Size: 4 to 7 inches
  • Life Span: 50 to 100 years
  • Average Price Range: $260 – $360
  • Conservation Status: Michigan, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut—list the animal as a species of special concern, and Maine lists the turtle as endangered.

Eastern Box turtles have high domed dark brown, olive, or black shells that sport distinctive yellow or orange markings. Their plastrons are tan, yellowish, or cream colored with dark markings. Their skin is the same color as their carapace.

Box turtles are known for being able to completely enclose themselves in their shells. This is due to the double hinges on the plastron. They do this to protect themselves from predators. There aren’t many animals in their wild habitat that can break through their tough shells.

Sometimes you can tell the sexes apart on Eastern Box turtles by looking into their eyes. Females tend to have light brown to yellow eyes, while males have bright red or orange eyes.

This terrestrial turtle can be found in the southern half of Illinois and is a fairly common sight throughout this range. They prefer damp woodlands, marshy areas, and damp grasslands. Though they rarely go completely into the water, they like to live near streams and ponds.

The Eastern Box turtle will partially submerge itself in the water to cool off or find mud or damp leaf litter to bury itself in.

Eastern Box turtles will roam a large distance in the search of food, but they will always return to the area they were born. They are omnivores that will eat worms and other invertebrates as well as fungi, berries, plants, and even carrion.

3) Ornate Box Turtle

Ornate box turtle (Terrapine ornata ornata) retracted in its shell on dirt
Ornate box turtle (Terrapine ornata ornata) retracted in its shell on dirt – source
  • Experience Level: Intermediate to Expert
  • Family: Emydidae
  • Scientific Name: Terrapine ornata
  • Other Names: Box Tortoise, Western Box Turtle
  • Adult Size: 4 to 5 inches
  • Life Span: 30 to 40 years
  • Average Price Range: $150 to $450
  • Conservation Status: Near threatened

Ornate Box turtles are a colorful species with distinctive yellow or orange striped patterning on their dark-colored, hinged, and domed shells. This species is scattered across Illinois, but they prefer open habitats like grasslands or prairies.

The Ornate Box turtle is a threatened species in Illinois and is federally listed as near threatened. They are quite popular as pets though because they are small and can be very colorful.

Though normally active during the day, they will burrow in soft soil or hide in the shade when it gets very hot. During the summer, the Ornate Box turtle is more active during dusk and dawn.

Water is very important to these turtles, but they don’t spend much time in the water at all. Most times they visit watery areas only to drink and rehydrate.

During the winter, Ornate Box turtles will hibernate. They will either burrow into the soft ground themselves or find a burrow to occupy in the fall. Ornate Box turtles will all burrow at about the same time, and then they all emerge within 7 to 14 days of each other.

Cooters in Illinois

4) Eastern River Cooter

Two Eastern river cooters (Pseudemys concinna concinna) basking on side of pond
Two Eastern river cooters (Pseudemys concinna concinna) basking on side of pond – source
  • Experience Level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Family: Emydidae
  • Scientific Name: Pseudemys concinna concinna
  • Other Names: River Cooter
  • Adult Size: Between 8 and 12 inches
  • Life Span: Between 20 and 40 years
  • Average Price Range: $20 to $50
  • Conservation Status: Special concern

Eastern River Cooters are freshwater aquatic turtles with bright ornate shells. The background on their somewhat flattened carapace is typically olive but can be a dark brown. Their scutes (plates on the turtle’s shell) have highly stylized patterns, and the outer ridge scutes sometimes have C shapes.

Plastrons on these turtles are typically yellow, with dark spots along the edge. Their skin is dark green to black with light colored or yellow stripes. Males have very long front claws and longer tails than females.

Though very aquatic, these turtles do like to emerge on rocks, banks, or logs to bask in the sun.

As their name suggests, the River Cooter is often found in rivers, but more specifically in oxbows, and areas with a decent water flow, though they can be found in ponds and shallow lakes sometimes. The main deciding factor on where they live is the abundance of aquatic vegetation.

Adult Eastern River Cooters are mostly herbivores so they need plenty of algae and vegetation to feed on. Juveniles and babies eat more protein and meat to help them grow faster.

Map Turtles in Illinois

5) Northern Map Turtle

Baby Northern Map turtle (Graptemys geographica) by Randy Walsh
Baby Northern Map turtle (Graptemys geographica) by Randy Walsh
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Emydidae
  • Scientific Name: Graptemys geographica
  • Other Name: Common map turtle
  • Adult Size: Between 4 and 10.5 inches
  • Life Span: 15 to 20 years
  • Average price range: Between $20 and $60
  • Conservation Status: Least concern

Northern Map turtles may be found in waterways across the entire state. They are very aquatic, and only leave the water to lay their eggs and to bask.

They have dark brown or olive green shells, with swirls and markings that resemble relief maps. These markings tend to fade as the turtle ages though. A few more defining shell characteristics are the middle keel (ridge) that runs from front to back, and the saw-toothed ridges found at the back of the carapace.

Northern Map turtles are late hibernators. Sometimes they can still be seen swimming at the bottom of rivers and lakes even though ice covers the surface.

They prefer lakes, streams, ponds, or rivers with muddy bottoms and plenty of vegetation.

This species of turtle is mostly carnivorous. They eat snails, crayfish, freshwater clams, and insects. Females are larger and can eat harder shelled crustaceans while males with smaller, weaker jaws feed more on insects and insect larvae.

6) False Map Turtle

Front view of False map turtle (Graptemys pseudogeographica) on log with head up
Front view of False map turtle (Graptemys pseudogeographica) on log with head up
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Emydidae
  • Scientific Name: Graptemys pseudogeographica
  • Other Names: Sawback turtle
  • Adult Size: 3.5 to 10.5 inches
  • Life Span: 30 to 50 years
  • Average Price Range: $6 to $40
  • Conservation Status: Least concern

False Map turtles are very similar to Northern Map turtles in appearance. A few subtle differences include the keel, which is spiked on False Map turtles, and they have L shaped markings behind their eyes.

These turtles have saw-toothed ridges on the back of the carapace as well. I can only surmise this turtle is called the False Map turtle because you shouldn’t try to read the map on its shell, it’s a false map.

Okay, bad jokes aside, you can find this turtle all across the state in large rivers and lakes. You may also see them basking on outcrops, rocks, logs, or other areas close to the water.

False Map turtles enjoy spending time in cold water like the Northern Map, though they will hibernate through the coldest stretches.

The False Map turtle is more omnivorous than its cousin. They will eat crayfish, insects, fish, and some vegetation.

7) Ouachita Map Turtle

Ouachita Map turtle (Graptemys ouachitensis) sprawled out on rock
Ouachita Map turtle (Graptemys ouachitensis) sprawled out on rock – source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Emydidae
  • Scientific Name: Graptemys ouachitensis
  • Other Names: Southern Map turtle
  • Adult Size: 3.5 to 10 inches
  • Life Span: 15 to 20 years
  • Average Price Range: $40 to $100
  • Conservation Status: Least concern

Ouachita Map turtles are mainly found in the fringe counties of Illinois as well as some of the central northern regions. They are fairly common diurnal turtles, but are easily startled and will quickly jump into the water at the slightest sign of danger.

Ouachita Map turtles can be distinguished from other Map turtles by the large rectangular, squared, or rounded yellow patches behind their eyes. They look very similar to other Map turtles, except their keel has three or four large spikes. Youngsters have the most prominent nodules but they wear down as they age.

There is quite a bit of sexual dimorphism (size distinction between sexes) present in these turtles. Males are often half the size of full grown females.

Their favorite habitats are lakes and rivers with soft, muddy bottoms and a lot of vegetation. They eat a varied diet of mollusks, insects, crustaceans, fish, algae, and aquatic plants.

Mud Turtles in Illinois

8) Eastern Mud Turtle

Eastern Mud turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum) being held up for picture with field in background
Eastern Mud turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum) being held up for picture with field in background – source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Kinosternidae
  • Scientific Name: Kinosternon subrubrum
  • Other Names: Common mud turtle
  • Adult Size: 3 to 4 inches
  • Life Span: 40 to 50 years
  • Average Price Range: $20 – $100
  • Conservation Status: Least concern

Eastern Mud turtles like shallow, slow-moving waters, especially swamps, marshes, drainage ditches, or bogs. In Illinois, they can be found mainly in southern counties. Though aquatic, they don’t swim very well and tend to walk along the bottom, and they will leave the water often.

These turtles have smooth, highly domed, oval shaped shells with a double hinged plastron. Their shells range between brown and yellow coloration and their faces sport bright yellow mottling, or stripes.

Mud turtles have small, fleshy barbels on their chins and necks. These turtles are very small and only reach shell lengths up to 4 or 5 inches long.

Eastern Mud turtles are omnivorous and will mainly eat worms, snails, fish, tadpoles, and plants or algae.

9) Yellow Mud Turtle

Yellow mud turtle (Kinosternon flavescens) found in back yard
Yellow mud turtle (Kinosternon flavescens) found in back yard – source
  • Experience level: Intermediate
  • Family: Kinosternidae
  • Scientific Name: Kinosternon flavescens
  • Common Name:  Mud Turtle, Yellow Mud Turtle
  • Average Adult Size: 5 – 7 inches
  • Life Span: 40 years
  • Average Price Range: Approximately $80 to $300
  • Conservation Status: Federally listed as least concern, but threatened or endangered in most states.

Yellow Mud Turtles inhabit marshes, sand prairies, and ponds along the Western edge of the state. When it gets too hot or too cold they will burrow in the sand to protect themselves.

These small turtles have unmarked shells that are usually olive, tan or light brown in color. They may have some yellow coloring around their faces and other fleshy parts of their bodies. The plastron is yellowish and hinged.

When threatened they can close themselves into their shells and they can release a nasty smelling musk from two glands near their back ends.

Though the Yellow Mud turtle is listed as least concerned federally, most individual states list this little turtle as threatened or endangered. The decline is due mainly to habitat destruction. The areas they live in are being turned into agricultural lands, pine tree plantations or roads are being constructed through the marshes and prairies.

Yellow Mud turtles cruise the bottom of the water searching for and eating fish, crustaceans, mollusks, worms, and plants. They will occasionally search the shore for food, but they don’t like to leave the water very often.

Musk Turtles in Illinois

10) Eastern Musk Turtle

Eastern musk turtle (Eastern Musk Turtle) perched on dirt under a leaf by Curtis Meyers
Eastern musk turtle (Eastern Musk Turtle) perched on dirt under a leaf by Curtis Meyers
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Kinosternidae
  • Scientific Name: Sternotherus odoratus
  • Other Names: Common Musk turtle, Stinkpot
  • Adult Size: 4 to 5 inches (10 to 12.5 cm)
  • Life Span: 30 to 50 years
  • Average Price Range: $30 to $120
  • Conservation Status: Least concern

Eastern Musk turtles are also known as “Stinkpots” thanks to the strong odor they can secrete from their musk glands. They utilize this defense mechanism against predators and when they feel threatened. Common Musk turtles are common across much of Illinois.

Eastern Musk turtles have dark brown or black unmarked shells that are frequently covered in algae. They have fleshy barbels on their chins and necks, and their faces have two yellowish stripes that run from the tip of their snout back.

Shallow still waters such as lakes, ponds, and streams attract these Musk turtles. They also search for small bodies of water with a lot of vegetation. Here they can climb on the plants to find food and get to the surface for air.

You may also see these turtles climbing in trees, up to 6 feet high. When you’re walking near the water’s edge or kayaking in shallow waters, be careful of falling Stinkpots.

These turtles are mostly nocturnal and search for food such as mollusks, crustaceans, fish, small amphibians, and some vegetation.

Painted Turtles in Illinois

11) Eastern Painted Turtle

Close up of young baby Eastern Painted turtle (Chrysemys picta) on grass
Close up of young baby Eastern Painted turtle (Chrysemys picta) on grass
  • Experience level: Beginner
  • Family: Emydidae
  • Scientific Name: Chrysemys picta
  • Common Name: Painted Turtle
  • Average Adult Size: 4 – 10 inches
  • Life Span: 30 – 50 years
  • Average Price Range: Between $30 to $150
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Painted turtle is the most widespread and common turtle species found across North America. You can find this colorful turtle in lakes, ponds, streams, and many other shallow bodies of water across the state of Illinois. It’s the Official State Reptile of Illinois.

You can recognize painted turtles by the reddish or orange stripe running along the top of the smooth, slightly domed shell. The plastron tends to be red or shades of dark orange with a various pattern split in the middle.

Their head and limbs are olive, dark brown, or black with plenty of yellow stripes. Males are distinguished by their long front claws which they use during mating. When trying to entice a female to mate, the male will stroke the female’s head and neck with the back of the nails.

Painted turtles are aquatic but often come on land to explore, bask, and lay eggs but they have to return to the water to eat. Their tongues do not move and cannot manipulate food so they have to use water to swallow.

They are omnivores and enjoy a diet of mollusks, frogs and tadpoles, fish, insects, and vegetation.

Pond Sliders in Illinois

12) Red Eared Slider

Red eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) sprawled out on stone
Red eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) sprawled out on stone
  • Experience level: Beginner
  • Family: Emydidae
  • Scientific Name: Trachemys scripta elegans
  • Common Name: Pond slider, Red-eared terrapin, Water slider
  • Average Adult Size: 6 – 8 inches
  • Life Span: 20 to 40 years
  • Average Price Range: approximately $30 to $100
  • Conservation Status: Least concern

One of the most popular species of pet turtle on the market, Red Eared Sliders are common semi-aquatic turtles found statewide across Illinois. Though they are native to Illinois and other areas of the Nation, these turtles have become invasive in many other states, and indeed many other countries.

These turtles are beneficial in their native habitats, but often out compete other turtles where they didn’t originate.

Throughout Illinois, most types of water may hold at least a few Red Eared Sliders. These turtles are at home in nearly any type of water, but they prefer shallow, slow-moving waters with plenty of vegetation.

Red Eared Sliders have an olive colored shell with prominent patterns on their carapace. The plastron is fixed, yellowish, and may have a few to several dark spots. Its skin is olive green to black with yellow striping similar to painted turtles.

The big identifier for Red Eared Sliders is the red mark behind the eyes. This is a unique mark among turtle species, only the Red Eared Slider has it.

They are very aquatic and only leave the water to bask—often stacking on top of one another—and to lay eggs.

These turtles eat nearly anything they can get into their mouths, so there is little competition for food. Red Eared Sliders will eat fish, crayfish, amphibians, tadpoles, insects, fruit, vegetation, and carrion.

Snapping Turtles in Illinois

13) Alligator Snapping Turtle

Baby Alligator Snapping turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) in weeded area
Baby Alligator Snapping turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) in weeded area
  • Experience level: Expert
  • Family: Chelydrida
  • Scientific Name: Macrochelys temminckii
  • Common Name: Loggerhead Snapper
  • Average Adult Size: 13-30 inches
  • Life Span: 30 – 50 years
  • Average Price Range: Approximately $50 to $300
  • Conservation Status: Least concern federally, endangered in Illinois

Alligator Snapping turtles are the largest freshwater turtle species in the United States. On average they reach lengths between 15 to 25 inches long and weigh over 100 pounds.

They have thick ridged, spiked shells, very long tails, and long, wide limbs. Their head is very large and spiked with fleshy protrusions, making them look incredibly fearsome.

Though typically docile while underwater, they can be very aggressive on land. When confronted the Alligator Snapping turtle will hiss loudly, and expose its large, sharp-beaked mouth. If they get a hold of flesh, they can sever fingers because they have a very powerful bite.

Alligator Snapping turtles live in slow moving waters such as marshes, swamps, lakes, and rivers along the outer counties of the state. They spend most of their time sitting on the bottom of the water wiggling a fleshy lump on their tongue. In the water, it looks like a worm and when a fish or other aquatic animal gets near, the turtle snaps it up and swallows it.

Alligator Snapping turtles are mainly carnivores, and will essentially eat anything they can catch, even other turtles, but they have been seen eating some algae and vegetation.

14) Common Snapping Turtle

Common snapping turtle (Chelydra Serpentina) walking across pavement
Common snapping turtle (Chelydra Serpentina) walking across pavement
  • Experience level: Intermediate to Expert
  • Family: Chelydrida
  • Scientific Name: Chelydra Serpentina
  • Other Names: Snapping Turtle, Snapper, Eastern Snapping Turtle
  • Average Adult Size: 8 to 20 inches
  • Life Span: 30 – 50 years
  • Average Price Range: Approximately $40 to $120
  • Conservation Status: Least concern

Common Snapping turtles are similar to Alligator Snappers but not as large. They have a smoother carapace with three small keels. Common Snappers are olive, brown, or black on the skin and upper shell.

The plastron is small and light colored or even white. They have long necks, limbs, and saw-toothed tails that they are not able to withdraw into their shell.

They are found across the state in permanent bodies of water. Though a mostly aquatic turtle, they can be encountered on land while searching for a place to lay their eggs or another habitat.

When on land these normally shy turtles turn quite aggressive and will not hesitate to bite when approached. They have a sharp beaks, long necks, and very wide heads that can deliver a very painful bite.

Younger turtles tend to be more active hunters, while adults become more sedate. They prefer to lay at the bottom of the water, often covered in mud or sand, and wait for food to come near.

They will eat nearly anything that they can fit into their mouths. They eat fish, frogs, small turtles, mollusks, crayfish, and waterfowl, though this is quite rare.

Softshell Turtles in Illinois

15) Smooth Softshell Turtle

Newly hatched Smooth Softshell turtle (Apalone mutica) covered in sand being held in hand
Newly hatched Smooth Softshell turtle (Apalone mutica) covered in sand being held in hand – source
  • Experience Level: Intermediate to Expert
  • Family: Trionychidae
  • Scientific Name: Apalone mutica
  • Other Names: Spineless Softshell
  • Adult Size: 4.5 to 14 inches
  • Life Span: 25+ years
  • Average Price Range: $40 to $60
  • Conservation Status: Least concern

Smooth Softshell turtles are a threatened species in Illinois but listed as least concern federally. They are fast, accomplished swimmers and equally swift on land. They inhabit sandy bottomed rivers across much of the state.

Smooth Softshell turtles resemble spotted, leathery pancakes with cream to white plastrons. They have no scales and their skin is nearly the same color as their carapace. They have a single wide stripe that starts behind their eyes and runs to their neck.

The Smooth Softshell turtle likes to bury itself in the sand in shallow waters where it can stretch its long neck up to the surface without leaving its hiding place. They have a long, tube-like snout that helps them reach farther from the bottom of the water.

When winter comes, the Softshell Turtle will bury itself in the sand or mud. They can stay underwater for extended periods because they are able to breathe oxygen through their skin.

Softshell turtles are carnivores that eat nearly anything that moves. Mollusks, fish, amphibians, insects, crayfish, and the occasional waterfowl is on this turtle’s menu.

16) Spiny Softshell Turtle

Adult spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera) next to persons foot in mud
Adult spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera) next to persons foot in mud – source
  • Experience Level: Intermediate to Expert
  • Family: Trionychidae
  • Scientific Name: Apalone spinifera
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: 5 to 9 ½ inches for males, 10 to 20 inches for females
  • Life Span: Between 20 and 50 years
  • Average Price Range: Between $20 and $120
  • Conservation Status: Threatened in some areas

Spiny Softshell turtles can be found in rivers or streams with a fast-moving current across the entire state. Like Smooth Softshell turtles, they require sandbars in their habitats to bury themselves in.

Spiny Softshell turtles look very similar to Smooth Softshells except for the ridge of raised tubercles on the upper carapace. They also grow a little larger than the smooth version of this turtle.

Most species of Softshell turtle exhibit extreme sexual dimorphism. Males are typically 2 to 3 times smaller than females.

These turtles may look soft and squishy, but they hide a hard, aggressive side. They will scratch with long, sharp claws, and bite with a razor sharp beak when handled, so beware if you see them on land.

The Spiny Softshell is carnivorous as well. Often they lay buried in the sand at the bottom of the water and lash out at anything that swims too close.

Spotted Turtles in Illinois

17) Spotted Turtle

Spotted turtle (Clemmys guttata) with all limbs pulled in laying on log
Spotted turtle (Clemmys guttata) with all limbs pulled in laying on log
  • Experience Level: Intermediate to Expert
  • Family: Emydidae
  • Scientific Name: Clemmys guttata
  • Other Names: Polka-dot turtle, “Spotty”
  • Adult Size: 4 to 5 inches
  • Life Span: Males up to 65 years; females up to 110 years
  • Average Price Range: $200 to $300
  • Conservation Status: Endangered

One of the smallest and cutest turtles found in the state, Spotted turtles are endangered in Illinois and elsewhere. Their smooth black shells have vibrant bright yellow spots ranging from very few to nearly 100.

They have lighter colored, unhinged plastrons with large black patches of varying sizes on either side. Their skin is black and spotted with yellow like the carapace.

Spottys are semi-aquatic and prefer sedge meadows, prairies, and shallower clear waters such as bogs or marshes. They also prefer waters with plenty of vegetation.

Predation by raccoons, skunks, and large birds such as crows, and water pollution are contributing to their decline. These turtles are very sensitive to dirty water conditions. They are also poached very often for the pet trade because they are small, docile, and command a high price.

Spotted turtles like to bask, on logs or on soft mossy ground. Though they eat many terrestrial insects such as earthworms, spiders, caterpillars, and slugs, they will only feed in the water. They also eat fish, tadpoles, crustaceans, and aquatic plants.

FAQs

Can turtles regenerate their shells?

A turtle cannot grow a new shell, though some very small pieces may flake off and regrow. They can heal some damage to their shells though this takes time as the shell only grows slowly. Catastrophic damage to a turtle’s shell is fatal to them.

Do all turtles carry salmonella?

All reptiles carry salmonella in their gut. When they poop salmonella is present, and since reptiles including turtles may step in their own feces, especially pets, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands after handling any reptile.

How can you tell female turtles from males?

Depending on the species this may be difficult. In many turtle species, the female is larger than males. Male turtles also tend to have longer tails, and a concave plastron, though this does vary from species to species. The best way to tell the difference is to take your turtle to a vet for proper identification.

What’s the best way to help turtles across the street?

First of all, make sure you are safe before trying to help a turtle across a busy roadway. Next, when you can help the turtle across in the direction it was headed. If you move it in the opposite direction it was headed, it will turn around and attempt to cross again.

Some turtles may be aggressive even if you’re only trying to help. In these cases, try to use a shovel or a long handled tool to get them across and to keep your hands and feet safe from potential bites.

Wrapping up

In this article, we’ve looked at the 17 native turtles in Illinois. Some of these turtles are fairly common and widespread across the state, like the Red-eared Slider, Common Map turtle, or the Painted turtle which is the Illinois state reptile.

Other turtles such as the Spotted turtle, or Blanding’s turtle will be harder to find while you’re out and about. If you do see these turtles count yourself lucky and only watch without disturbing them.

If you enjoyed this list and want to discuss these turtles further, feel free to comment below! You could also share a story about your turtle encounters or simply say hello. Until next time!

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