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 Illinois

  TURTLES   

HOW WILL I KNOW?

Turtles have the following traits
*4 legs
*tail
*claws
*no teeth
*scales and/or plates
*shell.

WHERE WILL I FIND THEM?

Turtles may be found n many habitats from water to forests to prairies to urban areas. Aquatic turtles are often seen sunning on rocks or logs in the morning hours. Turtles are most active during the day.

WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW ABOUT THEM?

The shell of a turtle has an upper portion called the carapace and a lower portion called the plastron. The two parts are joined by a bridge. The shell is arranged to allow a turtle to draw in its head, tail and legs, although most turtles cannot completely close the shell. Some turtles have a leathery shell instead of a hard one.

Females dig a hole on land for the eggs. Once the eggs are laid, the hole is filled with dirt. When the turtles hatch, they must dig their way to the surface.

Turtles may be herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores. The adults, hatchlings and eggs are all food sources for several predators.

SNAPPING TURTLE

Chelydra serpentina
(chuh-LIH-druh sir-pen-TEE-nuh)

IS IT NEAR MY HOUSE?

statewide in Illinois

WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?

This large turtle (8-12 inches, 10-35 pounds) has an enormous head, thick legs and a relatively long tail. The carapace has three keels that tend to be covered with algae in adults. The plastron is too small to cover the head, tail and legs. Young animals are black with some gray or olive spots. Adults are olive, gray or black.

WHAT ARE ITS HABITS?

Found in all types of water bodies, the snapping turtle may also migrate on land. It is slow-moving and awkward both in and out of the water. In water, it spends much time on the bottom waiting for prey. This turtle is a scavenger and predator and will eat most anything.

WHAT ABOUT REPRODUCTION?

Twenty to thirty eggs are laid in June. Hatchlings may be found in September and October.

Read & Color

Now that you have learned more about this amphibian, color or paint it as it would look in the wild. Add some of its habitat, too.

STINKPOT

Sternotherus odoratus
(stern-AH-ther-us of-door-A-tus)

IS IT NEAR MY HOUSE?

statewide in Illinois

WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?

This small (3.25-4.5 inches) turtle has an oval-shaped, high-domed shell. The front of the plastron is much shorter than the back. A large head, nose that projects beyond the mouth, pair of chin barbels and pair of yellow stripes on each side of the head are also features. The carapace may be black, olive or brown.

WHAT ARE ITS HABITS?

The stinkpot is aquatic and swims well, although it mainly crawls on the bottom of water bodies. Its name comes from an unpleasant musk it may release from its scent glands. This ill-tempered animal is a carnivore, eating mainly arthropods, fish, worms and mollusks.

WHAT ABOUT REPRODUCTION?

Eggs are laid in June in a nest near a pond. The clutch of 3-5 hard-shelled eggs hatches in early fall.

Read & Color

Now that you have learned more about this reptile, color or paint it as it would look in the wild. Add some of its habitat, too.

SPINY SOFTSHELL

Apalone spinifera
(ap-uh-LONE spin-IF-er-uh)

IS IT NEAR MY HOUSE?

statewide in Illinois

WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?

The softshell is a large (females 7-17 inches, males 5-9.25 inches), aquatic turtle with a tan leathery carapace lined with bumps. Each side of the head is dark with a light stripe behind the eye and a light line behind the jaw. The neck and legs are olive with dark mottling.

WHAT ARE ITS HABITS?

The softshell turtle may be found basking on sandbars, buried in sand at a stream’s edge or floating at the surface. It is basically a river turtle but may be found in quiet bodies of water where sandbars and mudbars are present. This carnivore will readily bite if disturbed. It may stay underwater for long periods of time.

WHAT ABOUT REPRODUCTION?

An average of 18 eggs are buried in a nest in June. Hatchlings may be seen by late August.

Read & Color

Now that you have learned more about this reptile, color or paint it as it would look in the wild. Add some of its habitat, too.

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