Thursday, July 29, 2010

Spiny Softshell Turtle

The final highlight of Erika and my stroll on Monday to the Carleton College Arboretum was our encountering this soft-shelled turtle along the banks of the Cannon River.  Separating Smooth Soft-shell Turtles from Spiny Soft-shells proves to be difficult.  To identify them, you usually have to have the turtle in hand.
In the photo below, you can make out bumps along the leading edge of the shell.  I suspect these structures indicate that this turtle is a Spiny Soft-shell. In both species, males are much smaller than females.  This turtle seemed very large to us, so we suspect she is a female.
The Spiny Soft-shell is more common than the Smooth, which is considered a species of special concern in Minnesota.  In any event, the Minnesota website on Minnesota herps (http://herpnet.net/Minnesota-Herpetology) shows Rice County oddly lacking records for either species.  Certainly this hiatus is due to oversight.  Erika and I previously have paddled by softshell turtles on the Cannon River.

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