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Turtles in Indiana

18 Types of turtles in Indiana

There are 18 native turtles in Indiana and include terrestrial turtles like box turtles, softshell turtles, map turtles, cooters, and more.

Before going into details about each type of turtle, it’s essential to know that it’s illegal to sell wild-caught turtles in Indiana. The collection of wild turtles contributed to a decreased number of this species.

If you are in the market for a pet turtle, just make sure that you buy from a reputable captive bred breeder.

1. Spotted Turtle

Spotted turtle (Clemmys Guttata) in the wild
Spotted turtle (Clemmys Guttata) in the wild

The spotted turtle is a semi-aquatic species, so they spend most of their lives in marshes, swamps, lakes, and wet meadows.

They are one of the smallest turtle species in the U.S. Their size can reach up to 5 inches.

When it comes to their diet, it’s essential to know that the Spotted Turtles are omnivores. Spotted Turtles prey on aquatic vegetation and invertebrates.

Males are different from females as they have a concave plastron, while females have a convex one. Male’s tail is thicker than females, and they have brown eyes. Females have red eyes.

See our guide on how to tell the gender of a turtle for more steps for figuring out if your turtle is male or female.

2. Spiny Softshell Turtle

spiny softshell turtle (apalone spinifera)
Spiny softshell turtle (apalone spinifera)
  • Experience Level: Intermediate to Expert
  • Family: Trionychidae
  • Scientific Name: Apalone Spinfera
  • Adults Size: 5 to 9 inches (males), 9 to 11 (females)
  • Lifespan: 50 years
  • Average Price Range: $50 to $100
  • Where to Buy: Tortoisetown.com
  • Recommended Books: Softshell Turtle Pet Owners Guide by Ben Team

The species is one of the largest freshwater turtles in North America. The name is in reference to the spiny, cone-like projections on the carapace, and which shouldn’t be confused as scales.

The same as the other softshell turtle species, this one also has webbed feet and three claws. Their carapace is olive or yellowy-brownish in color, while their plastron is white to yellow.

The Spiny Softshell Turtle can either actively hunt for food or bury itself in the sand and wait for the prey as an ambush predator, similar to snapping turtles.

When hunting, they usually go for insects, crayfish, fish, and mussels.

The nesting period is mid to late spring, and the female can lay between 9 and 38 eggs. The end of summer and beginning of autumn is the period in which the eggs are laid.

3. Common Snapping Turtle

Common snapping turtle basking on rock
Common snapping turtle basking on rock
  • Experience Level: Intermediate to Expert
  • Family: Chelydridae
  • Scientific Name: Chelydra serpentina
  • Other Names: Common Snapping Turtle
  • Size: 8 to 20 inches
  • Lifespan: 30 to 50 years
  • Average Price Range: $20 to $60
  • Where to Buy: Tortoisetown.com
  • Recommended Books: Snapping Turtle Pet Owners Guide by Ben Team

The Common Snapping Turtle has a very long neck, head and legs. Having all these long extremeties is probably why they can even be seen climbing fences sometimes.

via GIPHY

The color of the carapace is brown to black and can weigh up to 35 pounds.

They are normally found in freshwaters with a soft bottom. Since the species is omnivorous, it feeds on both animals and plants.

Before laying the eggs, females look for sandy soil to deposit anywhere from 25 to 80 eggs. Males typically don’t come on land much.

The incubation period is three months long. The Common Snapping Turtle has delayed maturity, and it’s commonly reached at the age of 20.

4. Alligator Snapping Turtle

Alligator snapping turtle with jaw open
Alligator snapping turtle with jaw open
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Chelydridae
  • Scientific Name: Macrochelys temminckii
  • Size: 13 inches
  • Lifespan: 80 to 120
  • Average Price Range: $75
  • Recommended Books: Aligator Snapping Turtle As Pet by Theo Jayden

The Alligator Snapping Turtle has very black or dark brown skin that has a spiky appearance. There are spikes on the upper part of the shell and it has a sharp beak.

The turtle can be spotted at the bottom of lakes, rivers, swamps, and slough since it is a freshwater species.

Alligator Snapping Turtles are carnivores, which means they prey on meat. They usually hunt for food, although not always actively. Often, they wait for their prey with their mouths open.

The incubation period can last up to 100 days, and it usually begins in May and lasts until July. Females lay a clutch of 10 to 50 eggs.

5. Blanding’s Turtle

Blandings turtle in woods in Illinois
Blandings turtle in woods in Illinois
  • Experience Level: Expert
  • Family: Emydidae
  • Scientific Name: Emys blandingii or Emydoidea blandingii
  • Size: 7 and 10 inches
  • Lifespan: 60 and 80 years
  • Average Price Range: $349.95 – $449.95
  • Where to Buy: Tortoisetown.com

This turtle is semi aquatic and has a dome-like shaped shell that is more pronounced than any other turtle’s shell.

The top part of the shell is dark brown or black, while the lower is yellow with black patterns. Their skin can be either dark brown or yellow, while the neck is yellow.

The species is endangered. It’s native to central and eastern parts of Canada and the U.S.

In addition to that their lifespan is around 80 years and they are capable of reproduction in the later decades of its life.

The Blanding’s Turtle also has delayed sexual maturity. The mating period begins in April, while the nesting period is in June. Clutch size varies from 5 to 12 eggs.

You can typically find them where there is abundant vegetation and in creeks and lakes with soft bottoms.

Since they are omnivorous, they feed on fish, insects, snails, aquatic vegetation, and vegetables.

6. Common Musk Turtle

Common Musk Turtle on white background
Common Musk Turtle on white background
  • Experience Level: Intermediate 
  • Family: Kinosternidae
  • Scientific Name: Sternotherus odoratus
  • Other Names: Stinkpot Turtle, Eastern Musk Turtle
  • Size: 2 – 5.5 inches
  • Lifespan: More than 50 years
  • Average Price Range: $25 – $60
  • Where to Buy: Tortoisetown.com

Common Musk turtles usually have a skin color including gray, black, or brown. Their shell is dome shaped and they have two light colored stripes on their head.

They aren’t a huge turtle and will weigh around 1.3 pounds give or take. They are fully aquatic and like to stay in slow moving waters with soft muddy bottoms.

Stinkpots are omnivorous and will feed on small aquatic and semi-aquatic animals, carrion, and aquatic plants.

It’s name comes from the fact that their defense mechanism is to release an odor when feeling threatened in order to deter predators.

When it comes to reproduction their nesting period starts in May and lasts until August, with incubation lasting around 75 days.

7. Eastern Box Turtle

Eastern Box turtle eating with vitamin a deficiency
Eastern Box Turtle eating in enclosure
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Emydidae
  • Scientific Name: Terrapene carolina carolina
  • Other Names: Land Turtle
  • Size: 4 to 7 inches
  • Lifespan: 40 years
  • Average Price Range: $260 – $360
  • Where to Buy: Tortoisetown.com
  • Recommended Books: The Box Turtle Manual by Philippe De Vosjoli, Roger J. Klingenberg

Even though Eastern Box turtles are terrestrial they are still classified as a pond turtle. Like other box turtles they are sometimes mistaken for tortoises since they have a high shaped shell.

A cool differentiation between sexes is that females have brown eyes and flat plastrons, while males have red eyes and concave plastrons. Their heads, necks, and limbs are brown with yellowy-orange spots.

Since it’s a terrestrial turtle, you can find it in woodlands, pastures, and meadows. They usually live near ponds and streams allowing them access to water and everything around it.

Unfortunately like many species there has been a decline of Eastern Box Turtles in recent years due to loss of their natural habitat.

Nesting season begins in May and ends in July, with the incubation period being between 70 to 80 days. A female turtle of this type can lay between 1 to 9 eggs in a single year.

8. Ornate Box Turtle

Ornate Box Turtle
Ornate Box Turtle
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Emydidae
  • Scientific Name: Terrapene ornata ornata
  • Size: 4 to 5 inches
  • Lifespan: 28 to 40 years
  • Average Price Range: $199.00 – $349.00
  • Where to Buy: Tortoisetown.com
  • Recommended Books: The Box Turtle Manual by Philippe De Vosjoli, Roger J. Klingenberg

The tiny Ornate Box Turtle is native to North America, and it’s a popular pet among turtle lovers. However, it is a protected species in Indiana since it’s on the list of threatened turtles.

While this turtle is a good swimmer, it is not an aquatic turtle and spends most of its time on land.

They have a dark color, which ranges from brown to black, and also has yellow stripes on the body.

These little guys are omnivores and will eat a variety of animal products and vegetation. You can learn more by checking our guide on what box turtle’s eat.

Hatchlings will prefer eating plant-based diets, but as they mature into adulhood will begin eating slugs, grasshoppers, eggs, earthworms, and carrion. Plant wise they will eat dandelion flowers, mulberries, and pear cacti.

9. Eastern Mud Turtle

Eastern mud turtles on a log
Eastern mud turtles on a log
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Kinosternidae
  • Scientific Name: Kinosternon subrubrum
  • Other Names: Common Mud Turtle
  • Size: 3 to 4 inches
  • Lifespan: Up to 20 years
  • Average Price Range: $74 to $120

The Eastern Mud Turtle is an omnivor and ranges in color from yellow to black. The carapace is plain-looking and there are stripes on the head that vary from white to black.

Since they are semi-aquatic turtles, the Eastern Mud Turtles prefer soft and muddy bodies of water. You can find them in rivers, lakes, and marshes which is where they will be hunting for food.

Nesting season begins in May and lasts for three months with the incubation period being more extended than other turtles.

It typicall lasts for 110 days. The clutch size is not significant, and it usually is only between 2 and 5 eggs.

The two hinges on the plastron tell the difference between the Eastern Mud Turtle and the Stinkpot.

10. Hieroglyphic River Cooter

  • Experience Level: Experienced
  • Family: Emydidae
  • Scientific Name: Pseudemys concinna hieroglyphica
  • Other Names: River Cooter
  • Size: 8 to 12 inches
  • Lifespan: 20 to 40 years
  • Average Price Range: Around $10
  • Where to Buy: Hahareptiles.com

The Hieroglyphic River Cooter’s color can range from green-brown to black. There is a red or orange pattern on the carapace. The plastron is light-covered. The skin of the turtle can be yellow, orange, or red.

This type of species likes to live in water streams, but also lakes and ponds.

When it comes to diet, they prefer eating plants, fish, and meat. It has been observed that the turtle hunts for the food including snails and insects and will eat it by the river’s edge.

The Hieroglyphic River Cooter’s nesting season begins in May, the same as the other turtle’s period with incubation lasting up to 100 days.

11. Midland Painted Turtle

Midland Painted Turtle
Midland Painted Turtle on log basking
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Emydidae
  • Scientific Name: Chrysemys picta marginata
  • Size: 4 to 10 inches
  • Lifespan: 20 to 40 years
  • Average Price Range: $20 to $60
  • Where to Buy: Theturtlesource.com
  • Recommended Books: Painted Turtle Care by Ben Team

Telling the difference between the Midland Painted Turtle from the other species is problematic since they don’t have a unique distinguishing feature.

That being said, if you look closely, you’ll notice that the plastron has a dark shadow.

Their limbs and head will have yellow and red stripes which can also be seen on the edges and underside of the carapace.

Their habitat is the basically the same as it is for all of Painted turtles subspecies, and you will find them in rivers, ponds, and lakes.

Nesting season begins in early spring and lasts until June and the incubation period is around 80 days.

12. Western Painted Turtle

chrysemys picta belli (western painted turtle)
chrysemys picta belli (western painted turtle)
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Emydidae
  • Scientific Name: Chrysemys picta belli
  • Other Name: Westland Painted Turtle
  • Size: 4 – 10 inches
  • Lifespan: 30 – 40 years
  • Average Price Range: $89.00 – $129.95
  • Where to Buy: Tortoisetown.com
  • Recommended Books: Painted Turtle Care by Ben Team

The Western Painted Turtle has bright colors on its neck, head, tail, legs, and lower shell.

Their carapace is oval-shaped and doesn’t have a ridge in the middle.

They are aquatic and as you would expect have webbed feet which helps propel them in water.

This turtle can be seen near lakes, rivers, and shallow streams where they can easily find food.

The Westland Painted Turtle is omnivorous, like many of the others feeding on meat and plants.

Hatchlings prefer eating insects, as they need more protein to build muscle. Other things they like eating include shrimp, snails, earthworms, and tadpoles.

13. Red-eared Slider

Red Eared Slider
Red Eared Slider
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Emydidae
  • Scientific Name: Trachemys scripta elegans
  • Other Names: Red-eared Terrapins
  • Size: 7 to 11 inches
  • Lifespan: 30 to 40 years
  • Average Price Range: $20
  • Where to Buy: Tortoisetown.com
  • Recommended Books: Red Eared Slider Secrets Care Guide

Unlike the Midland Painted Turtle, which is difficult to recognize, the Red-eared Slider can be easily distinguished from the other turtles by the colorful markings that look like ears on its head.

They’re also omnivores and like to eat meat, fruit, vegetables, and aquatic plants.

They are a medium sized species that likes to populate freshwater habitats.

Females reach sexual maturity between 2 and 5 years of age.

They can produce eggs for up to 5 years; however, their fertility drops by 20% each year.

Females can usually lay up to three clutches in a season. If it’s receptive, the courtship lasts for 45 minutes, while the mating takes only 10.

14. Common Map Turtle

Northern Map Turtle
Northern Map Turtle on stree side

The color of the Common Map Turtle can be dark brown or black. The lightly-covered map-like pattern is on the upper part of the shell, while in the center, you can see a row of saw-toothed knobs.

The bottom part of the shell has a lighter color, and there are long stripes on the skin.

Males are smaller in size than females. The best place to see a Common Map Turtle is in slow-moving water, such as rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds.

The species is an omnivore, so it benefits from eating vegetables, aquatic plants, meat, and insects. They multiply several times a year, beginning in spring until the end of August.

15. False Map Turtle

False map turtle swimming in tank
False map turtle swimming in tank

The False Map Turtle’s shell is olive, brown, or black. It also has dark spots have yellow lines around them.

Sometimes, you can see a web-like pattern on the upper shell which is where they get the name. The plastron is yellow, while the skin is covered with thin yellowy-white stripes.

The False Map Turtle inhibits slow-moving waters with a lot of vegetation.

Again they are an omnivore preying on animal products, fruit, vegetables, insects, and aquatic vegetation. They reproduce many times a year, usually beginning in spring.

16. Mississippi Map Turtle

Mississippi mud turtle on gravel
Mississippi mud turtle on gravel

The Mississippi Map Turtle is an excellent pet for beginners. They are aquatic species that want to populate lakes, rivers, and marshes. When they aren’t swimming, you can see them basking in the light.

The turtle got it’s name from the Mississippi Valley, which is where they are the most widespread. However, they also live in lakes and streams in the North.

The shell is olive green or brown, while the scutes have a brighter color. Many of them have yellow or orange lines, which emphasize the base color.

The plastron, the underside of the shell, is yellow or tan with darker brown stripes.

Mississippi Maps are an omnivore, and prey on meat, fish, and aquatic plants.

17. Ouachita Map Turtle

Graptemys ouachitensis
Ouachita Map turtle basking on log

The Ouachita Map Turtle has a sawback keel and lines that look like contours. Females are larger than males, and their carapace length can be 5 to 10 inches.

The carapace is either black or olive, covered with yellow lines. The plastron can be yellow or cream with dark stripes. The turtle is endemic to many states, including Indiana.

The species inhibits fast-moving waters that have a lot of vegetation. Rivers with sandy or rocky bottoms are this beauty’s favorite places.

This turtle is an omnivore; however, it prefers eating more meat than any other aquatic turtles do.

18. Midland Smooth Softshell

Midland Smooth Softshell Turtle (Apalone mutica mutica)
Midland Smooth Softshell Turtle (Apalone mutica mutica)
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Trionychidae
  • Scientific Name: Apalone mutica
  • Other Names: Midland Smooth Shell
  • Size: 6 – 13 inches
  • Lifespan: 40 – 60 years
  • Average Price Range: $50
  • Where to Buy: Theturtlesource.com

This turtle species has a softshell making it vulnerable to attack. When in water or on land, they are faster than any other turtle species.

The Midland Smooth Softshell is omnivorous, feeding on meat, fish, insects, snails, and vegetation. They prefer eating meat more.

The color of the body can be olive, grey, or brown. Their heads have a lighter color, while their eyes are black, having a yellow stripe behind the eyes.

You can see the Midland Smooth Softshell in unpolluted rivers, lakes, ponds, and marshes. Muddy and sandy bottoms are the turtle’s favorite places because they don’t like rocky areas or dense vegetation. 

The nesting period begins in May and lasts until July. Male turtles mate with more than one female that lays eggs once per year. During this time, female turtles lay 3 to 28 eggs.

Conclusion

Indiana is home to 18 types of turtles. Most of them are aquatic or semi-aquatic, so still-moving waters with soft and muddy bottoms are their favorites.

The nesting season begins in early spring and lasts throughout the summer months. The clutch size depends on many factors, including size, habitat, and sexual maturity.

Some turtle species, such as the Ornate Box Turtle, are endangered, so selling them is forbidden in Indiana.

When considering which type of turtle you want to choose, check the conservation status and your local laws, as there might be some species that aren’t allowed to be bought.

References: 

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