Range: Statewide, common
Habitat: Varied, prefers soft mud bottoms in warm, shallow areas with abundant vegetation
Behavior: Relatively docile in water, aggressive on land; raise bodies high off ground. Spend 3-4 hrs submerged at a time, bask but less than other aquatic turtles. Colonize new areas readily.
Diet: Varied incl. fish, frogs, invertebrates, waterfowl, and carrion.
Common Snapping Turtle – Chelydra serpentina
Range: Western TN, relatively rare
Habitat: slow-moving or still water
Behavior: Non-aggressive but will defend if provoked; gapes. Very rarely found on land or basking.
Diet: Primarily live fish
Alligator Snapping Turtle – Macrochelys temminckii
Range: Western and extreme SE TN, common where it occurs
Habitat: variety of shallow, still to slow-moving aquatic/wetlands
Behavior: Can close up in shell completely. Walks along bottom more than swims. Rarely basks but will wander over land and has been observed crossing roads.
Diet: Primarily crustaceans, mollusks, other aquatic inverts but sometimes plant material
Eastern Mud Turtle - Kinosternon subrurum
Range: Only eastern TN (uncommon), but common elsewhere (further south)
Habitat: Mostly large spring runs, creeks, and small rivers
Behavior: Highly aquatic, crawls along bottom; goes ashore only to nest but occasionally crawls up cypress knees or snags to bask. Discharges musky excretion upon capture. Communal nests together in sand.
Diet: Juveniles - primarily insects; adults - snails and clams
Loggerhead Musk Turtle – Sternotherus minor
Range: Statewide, common
Habitat: shallow, slow-moving, muddy-bottomed aquatic environments (many habitats)
Behavior: Secrete foul smelling musk when distrurbed and bites. Rarely basks, not likely to be encountered on land.
Diet: Invertebrates, fish, and carrion
Stinkpot (Common Musk Turtle) - Sternotherus odoratus
Range: Statewide, locally common
Habitat: mostly ponds and shallow lakes; unusually high tolerance for pollution
Behavior: Basks frequently, often in large numbers on logs in water. Not common to find on land but can travel from one body of water to another.
Diet: aquatic insects and plants, some fish
- Northern Painted Turtle and Southern Painted Turtle
- - Chrysemys picta and C. dorsalis
Range: Northeastern corner of TN, rare
Habitat: isolated bogs (in TN)
Behavior: Usually buried, seldom seen; occasionally basks.
Diet: Mostly insects/invertebrates but some plant material
Bog Turtle - Glyptemys muhlenbergii
Range: Statewide except extreme western, uncommon but locally common elsewhere.
Habitat: mostly larger streams, rivers, and lakes
Behavior: has been seen walking about under ice after cold spells. Basks commonly on logs in water, very uncommon to encounter on land
Diet: mostly aquatic invertebrates
Common Map Turtle – Graptemys geographica
Range: only Mississippi River & tributaries, uncommon to locally common
Habitat: large rivers and Reelfoot Lake
Behavior: Very shy, drops into water quickly if disturbed. Basks frequently on logs and limbs angled out of water. Rarely encountered on land except to nest.
Diet: Primarily mollusks and insects, some plant material
False and Ouachita Map Turtlea – Graptemys psuedogeographica and G. ouachitensis
Range: Statewide, common
Habitat: moderate to large streams w/ moderate currents
Behavior: Cannot swallow out of the water. Basks frequently but rarely encountered on land (except to nest)
Diet: Aquatic plants
Eastern River Cooter - Pseudemys concinna
Range: Statewide, common (one of most abundant)
Habitat:Variety incl. rivers, ditches, sloughs, lakes/ponds; prefers quiet, permanent waters with a muddy bottom and lots
of vegetation for basking
Behavior: Frequently basks, often stacked. Not very shy. Occasionally found on land when nesting or moving to other areas
Diet: Varied incl. aquatic plants, insects, fish, and carrion. Adult females largely herbivorous, young adult males mostly carnivorous.
Slider - Trachemys scripta
Range: Statewide, uncommon & declining
Habitat: varied terrestrial - woodlands, pastures, meadows, gardens
Behavior: Can close up in shell completely. Slow moving, diurnal, occurs almost exclusively on land.
Diet: Varied incl. fruit, snails/slugs, worms, insects, mushrooms, and flowers
Eastern Box Turtle – Terrapene carolina
Range: Statewide, uncommon (locally common elsewhere)
Habitat: large rivers w/ soft substrates
Behavior: Buries in mud, extremely fast in the water. Less likely to bite when handled. Basks occasionally. Rarely encountered on land.
Diet: Aquatic invertebrates, some fish, amphibians, and plants
Smooth Softshell Turtle - Apalone mutica
Range: Statewide, fairly common
Habitat: streams and rivers w/ soft substrates
Behavior: Buries in mud, extremely fast in the water. Basks occasionally. Rarely encountered on land. Courtship display involves waving webbed feet, extending neck, and shaking head
Diet: mostly fish and invertebrates
Spiny Softshell Turtle - Apalone spinifera