River Cooter Turtle


Seth’s Little Zoo | Aquatic Turtles | The river cooter is a large (12-16″ carapace) freshwater turtle. The carapace is rather flat, not highly domed. It is brown or olive with yellow/cream markings, which vary according to subspecies. The second pleural scute has a characteristic C-shaped mark.

The skin is olive to brown, with yellow stripes. Wide, sometimes dark-edged, stripes under the chin form an upside-down “Y.” The plastron is yellow and is marked with a large, darker pattern, at least anteriorly.

In captivity, cooters need an aquatic habitat, with a dry basking area. They need a warming light and UVB radiation. As juveniles, they can be kept in a 20- or 30-gallon long tank, but they will outgrow those accommodations, and need a very large tank or outdoor pond.

While the species is highly herbivorous, river cooters will eat anything, plant or animal, dead or alive. Diet seems to be determined by available food items. While some writers feel that these turtles will not eat meat, predatory behavior has been observed. Although this animal cannot swallow out of water, it will leave the water to retrieve a tasty bug or worm, returning to the water to swallow.


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