...Notes from the Field


Spiny Softshell Turtle

by | Mar 16, 2022

Very recently I was looking for the somewhat rare and mostly unheard of American alligators found in South Texas just north of the Mexican border in Hidalgo County when I suddenly surprised this spiny softshell turtle that I didn’t even see until I was about 4 feet away from it.  It wasn’t until I got the image back to my computer that I realized there was another one right in front of it hiding underwater! About 15 minutes later I found a nice-sized 8 (-ish) foot alligator lying in the sun on the bank too, soaking up some winter sunshine.

(click image to enlarge)

Spiny Softshell Turtle

Spiny Softshell Turtle (Apalone spinifera)

A pair of spiny softshell turtles – probably the Texas subspecies (Apalone spinifera emoryi) which is only found near the Rio Grande – keeping a wary eye out for alligators in a pond in next to Estero Llano Lake in Weslaco, Texas. Large with a somewhat flexible, leathery shell, the spiny softshell turtle and all of it’s subspecies can be found in most freshwater lakes, rivers and ponds where the water is clean and has a range from Southern Canada to Mexico in mostly the Eastern and Central part of the continent.




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