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Eastern River Cooter (Pseudemys Concinna Concinna)

The eastern river cooters are freshwater turtles that live on the eastern side of United States.

Quick Reference

  • Geographical Region: They are found from the coastal plains of southeastern Virginia to southeastern Alabama.
  • Size: Up to 12 inches in length.
  • Habitat: They hang out in the backwater near an open body of water.
  • Food: Herbivorous, they only eat plants.
  • Interesting Fact: They are very difficult to capture.
  • Trinomial Name: Pseudemys concinna concinna

Eastern River Cooter Facts

They are described by a slightly domed dorsal or carapace which is olive or brown with yellowish cream markings which varies depending on the species. Older males are much darker than the female and the young ones.

The males also tend to have larger tails than the female though the female is larger in terms of size. Eastern river cooters have other subspecies cooters namely; Missouri river cooter (pseudemys concinna metteri), Rio Grande Cooter (pseudemys concinna gorzugi), Hieroglyphic river cooter (pseudemys concinna hieroglyphica) and Mobile Bay Cooter (pseudemys concinna mobilensis).

Do they live in fresh or salt water?

Eastern River Cooter (Pseudemys concinna concinna)

The eastern river cooter is found in fresh waters, mostly in rivers with a moderate current. Eastern river scooters are adapted to breathing under fresh water, making it harder for researchers to study them.

What is this breed’s scientific name?

The scientific name of Eastern River Cooter is pseudemys concinna concinna

How long do Eastern River Cooters live?

Eastern river cooters can live up to forty (40) years. However, they are faced by many challenges as they grow.

Hatchlings are very vulnerable to predators. In addition, some people use these turtles as food, reducing their longevity. They also face the challenge of loss of habitat.

How big do Eastern River Cooters get?

Eastern river cooters grow to sizes of up to 41cm (15 inches) at maturity. Males are smaller than females but have a relatively larger tail than the female. Hatchlings have carapace width of about 1.5 inches just after they hatch.

What kind of lighting do they require if kept as pets?

Pseudemys concinna concinna (Eastern River Cooter)

As pets, cooters require direct warming light from the sun or a UVB radiation which can be bought in reptile lights shops. It is essential to have this kind of light for warming purposes.

See our UVB lights for turtles review for a more in depth look at lighting.

What temperatures do they live in?

The cooters should be kept under warm temperatures of between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and not below 65 degrees at night. Below we have some recommended lighting equipment for basking.

What do eastern river cooters eat?

Eastern river cooters are herbivores in nature and feed on aquatic pants, algae and grasses. However, younger eastern river cooters tend to feed on some small fish or crustaceans for added proteins.

This herbivorous adaptation is aided by presence of tooth-like cusps, found on the upper jaw of the cooter. Below are some recommended foods.

What are the best store food brands of eastern river cooter as a pet?

Turtle Brittle, Purina Aqua Max and Tetra’s Reptomin. Calcium is one of the most important food element needed by a river cooter.

There are many calcium supplements you can choose from in a food stores such as Rep-Cal which are available in many stores are also some of the commercial prepared foods that you can give your cooter.

You should also ensure that you frequently give them fresh vegetables and worms. Avoid giving your cooters bread, chocolate, candy or any other refined sugars. Reptiles cannot digest milk and so milk products should also be avoided.

Where do they live?

Eastern river scooters live in coastal mashes with high vegetation, rivers, ponds, and lake. They can also be found basking on the sun on rocks but quickly return to the water if they see a predator or a human.

Where are they found?

Pseudemys_concinna_concinna ( Eastern River Cooter)

The Eastern river cooters are found in Virginia, parts of Georgia, Texas, Oklahoma and north to Indiana. This is the Western side of United States.

Breeding habits

Males in eastern river cooters tend to be smaller than females as it is the case in many turtle species.

Receptive females sink to the water, and allow the male to mount her for mating. The female sinks in water to help the male in visualization, as it is smaller.

Eastern river cooters mostly do their mating in spring. After mating, the females get closer to water and lay eggs ranging from 12 to 20. Hatchling of the eggs happens after 45 to 55 days.

The female finds a perfect open place to dig the nest, usually in sand. This is where the hatchling occurs. Hatchlings have a centralized keel, which with time disappears.

Do they have any predators?

The eastern river cooters have several predators including humans who eat and sell them as pets. In addition, muskrats and alligators also like feeding on young hatchlings as they join their families in the river.

Are they endangered?

They are not endangered.

Eastern River Cooter overview Video


As with any turtles, Eastern River Cooters can make great pets, as long as you are committed and have the space.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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John Anselmo

Saturday 16th of April 2022

I have 2 cooters & they are without the best things that ever I ever had, they watch television with me at night, but they are a little overweight because I feed them shrimp for dinner, they eat diet pellets during the day. The only problem I have is that they don't like light. At 10PM I lower the lights & they immediately go to a large basking platform. THEY are 3 yo & over 10 inches in lenght. THANKS AGAIN for your input.


Saturday 5th of June 2021

Thanks for the information. A female laid her eggs in my yard this morning and we're wondering if predators, crows, raccoons, squirrels, etc will get them. Should they be fenced or covered with wire someway?


Tuesday 26th of May 2020

Where found are they found? - typo here I think Also, in that section you list Texas and Oklahoma as being in the eastern US but they're not. Eastern US is anything east of the MS River.

Brock Yates

Tuesday 26th of May 2020

Thanks Kara! I corrected the small typos, and will have our researchers review this and update it with more information and correct any other mistakes :)