Spiny softshell turtle

Spiny softshell turtle


North-East United-States





Latin Name

Apalone spinifera

IUCN conservation status

These unusual turtles have no scales and are covered with thick leathery skin.

Two Hunting Techniques for One of America's Fastest Turtles

They eat crawfish, insects, small fish, tadpoles and frogs, which they hunt by patrolling the bottom of the water. At other times, they bury themselves in the sand and wait for prey to pass. Being excellent swimmers, they can cover 30 km in only 24 hours.

A Physique Adapted to Aquatic Life, Summer and Winter

Their long necks allow them to remain submerged and to use only the tip of their noses as a snorkel. Thanks to their ability to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide through their skin, spiny softshell turtles use cutaneous respiration as an auxiliary breathing system, particularly in winter when they remain underwater for several months, hibernating.

A Bohemian Lifestyle, With No Concern for Others

Like most turtle species, they show little interest in other members of their family, except when the time comes to find a breeding partner. In fact, they offer no parental care; eggs are laid in loose soil and covered during incubation. Small turtles are independent from birth.

A Vulnerable Species in North America, and Threatened in Québec

Sensitive to disturbances, soft-shelled turtles are threatened in particular by the transformation of riverbanks and the loss of egg-laying sites. Skunks, raccoons and coyotes prey on eggs and babies, reducing their chances of recovery. Recreational boats may also disturb some of their activities.

Other animals from South America