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Mississippi Mud Turtle

Mississippi Mud Turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum hippocrepis)

The Mississippi mud turtle is one of two subspecies of Eastern mud turtles (Kinosternon subrubrum). Its scientific name is Kinosternon subrubrum hippocrepis.

The second subspecies is Kinosternon subrubrum subrubrum (Eastern mud turtle).

There used to be a third subspecies, which is Kinosternon subrubrum steindachneri (Florida mud turtle). But it was re-classified as a separate species in 2013.

All these three are semi-aquatic turtles. They mostly inhabit the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains.

Two more scientific names, Kinosternon hippocrepis and Kinosternon louisianae, also refer to Mississipi mud turtles.

Mississippi mud turtles are very much similar in appearance to Eastern mud turtles.

Keep on reading below to know the unique features of Kinosternon subrubrum hippocrepis and other interesting facts about this semi-aquatic turtle.

Mississippi Mud turtle on ground close up with algae on its shell
Mississippi Mud turtle on ground close up with algae on its shell

Quick Reference Section

  • Scientific Name: Kinosternon subrubrum hippocrepis or Kinosternon louisianae
  • Family: Kinosternidae
  • Size: 2.75 to 4.75 inches
  • Weight: 88 to 263 grams
  • Diet: Omnivore (snails, aquatic insects)
  • Lifespan: 23 to 46 years (generally estimated lifespan of Eastern mud turtles)

Interesting facts about Mississippi mud turtles

Many Mississippi mud turtles live at the edge of ponds and lakes. These mud turtles are not fond of basking.

They love moving about, particularly after a rainstorm. These are likely the type of turtles you see crossing roads and highways during Spring and Summer.

These turtles bury themselves in the mud at the bottom of their habitat during winter.

A young Mississippi mud turtle is not a good swimmer. That’s why pet owners must pay careful attention to the water levels of its tank.

IUCN listed Eastern Mud Turtles as of Least Concern in 2011.

Did you know that like other mud turtles, the Mississippi mud turtle gives off a strong, foul musky odor when captured?

What does the Mississippi mud turtle look like?

Mississippi Mud turtle wet on rock
Mississippi Mud turtle wet on rock

The Eastern mud turtle, with its subspecies Eastern mud turtle and Mississippi mud turtle, and the species Florida mud turtle, share many common similarities.

The Mississippi mud turtle, in particular, is small and dark.

There are yellow stripes running down the sides of their neck and head. Some others have pale tan stripes instead of yellow ones.

The upper shell has dark brown or black shade, and there are no marks. The lower shell (plastron) is usually yellow with some browns.

This mud turtle has a larger plastron compared to other turtles.

It has an anterior and posterior hinge. But unlike boxed turtles, the plastron is not closable.

Many of these turtles have algae growth on their shells, so they can be greenish in appearance.

Their hind feet are webbed, while the front feet are not.

Males have a tail tip that looks like a claw.

Where can the Mississippi mud turtle be found?

Mississippi mud turtle being held with mouth open
Mississippi mud turtle being held with mouth open

This mud turtle type can be found in Texas, eastern Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

What kind of habitat do the Mississippi mud turtles live in?

Mississippi mud turtles prefer moist habitats. You can see them in shallow, stagnant, or slow-moving waters that have aquatic vegetation. They avoid flowing rivers.

Spot these adorable turtles in swamps, ditches, ponds, lakes, and bayous around eastern Oklahoma.

In North America, you can see them between Central Texas and New York, up to the tip of Florida Peninsula.

What does the Mississippi mud turtle eat?

Mississippi mud turtle on gravel
Mississippi mud turtle on gravel

Mississippi mud turtles are omnivores. Their diet is a mix of both animal and plant food.

They forage the bottom of swamps, ponds, (or whatever habitat they are in) for aquatic insects and vegetation.

You can feed a captive pet with earthworms, feeder fish, mussels, or good quality turtle pellets.

How long does the Mississippi mud turtle live?

Plastron of mississippi mud turtle
Plastron of mississippi mud turtle

Researchers estimate that Eastern mud turtles, including Mississippi mud turtles, can live between 23 to 46 years.

If you have one for a pet and give it the proper care and a healthy diet, then you’ll surely enjoy its company for a very long time.

How many eggs does the Mississippi mud turtle lay?

baby mississippi mud turtle
baby mississippi mud turtle

These mud turtles mate all through April to July. Females are mature at 6 years. They lay up to 6 eggs in clutches of 3 or sometimes more.

Males sexually mature once they reach 3 inches in carapace length.

Mississippi mud turtles nest mostly anywhere. You may see them nesting in other animal burrows or dry, sandy soil.

Eggs incubate for 3 to 3.5 months, then hatch. Hatchlings are less than 1 inch in carapace length.

What predators does the Mississippi mud turtle have?

Their most dangerous predators are hunters and anglers that disturb their habitat and capture adult ones. Pesticide poisoning in habitats and road mortality also threaten their survival.

IUCN says there is a continuing decline of mature Mississippi mud turtles, but the population is not severely fragmented.

The eggs and hatchlings of these turtles also fall prey to other animals.

Is it legal to have the Mississippi mud turtle as a pet?

Yes, certain numbers of these mud turtle types are legally available for trade.

Some states impose regulation and protection laws, so it is wise to check your local state if you can legally have one.

Where can I buy Mississippi mud turtles?

You can check out Theturtlesource to see if they have them from time to time.

No matter where you buy from just make sure that it’s a captive bred turtle. Also check your local turtle laws to see what is allowed.

The below video lets you in on a pet owner’s unboxing of his new red-bellied Mississippi mud turtles. Check it out and see these cute hatchlings in action.


Mississippi mud turtles are good pets for beginners. They are quite simple to care for. These turtles don’t require a deep tank.

But they do need a good amount of ground. Just remember to provide this curious pet turtle with rocks and greens to crawl around and climb on.

If you’re still looking around check out some of the other turtle species that are out there.

References: Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, IUCN, and US Geological Survey

Images are courtesy of the US Forest Service

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