Logjams

Like bumper-to-bumper rush hour in Dallas.

A pallid spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera pallida) on the right end of the log with red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans) and river cooters (Pseudemys sp. or spp.) (2009_06_06_022407)

Even if temperatures are cool bordering on cold, a sunny day brings the turtles out en masse.  Any perch above the water becomes a turtle logjam.

A pallid spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera pallida) and some red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans) and what might be a river cooter (Pseudemys sp.) (2009_06_06_022407_c)

The species can be quite diverse, from softshells to cooters to sliders to anything else that finds room.

A pallid spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera pallida) on the left, one obvious red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) atop another turtle, and what could be either red-eared sliders or river cooters (Pseudemys sp.) (2009_06_21_024632)

And when there’s no more room on the log, there’s always room to climb atop another turtle.

A Texas river cooter (Pseudemys texana) on the right, an eastern river cooter (Pseudemys concinna) in the middle and a red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) on the left (2009_10_17_031943)

Everyone gets along if everyone gets some sunshine.

A baby red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) sunning atop an adult (2009_06_21_024674)

And if you’re lucky, you can find synchronized sunning like this pair, both of whom have their back legs stretched out and their heads held up.

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Photos:

[1] A pallid spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera pallida) on the right end of the log with red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans) and river cooters (Pseudemys sp. or spp.).

[2] A crop of the first image, hence the poor quality.  Shows a better view of the pallid spiny softshell turtle and some of the red-eared sliders; the turtle nearest the softshell might be a river cooter (Pseudemys sp.).

[3] A pallid spiny softshell turtle on the left, one obvious red-eared slider atop another turtle, and what could be either red-eared sliders or river cooters.

[4] A Texas river cooter (Pseudemys texana) on the right, an eastern river cooter (Pseudemys concinna) in the middle and a red-eared slider on the left.  Also note the red-eared slider in the lower-left corner of the frame.  (The water and turtles are covered with duckweed.)

[5] A baby red-eared slider resting atop an adult.

Note that differentiating the eastern river cooter from the Texas river cooter can be impossible without a clear view of the head pattern and shell pattern, and even then variability can lead to poor identifications.  Red-eared sliders can be confused with either species if the red patches are not visible.

Some male red-eared sliders become melanistic as they grow older; this causes their skin to lose all colors except green and the green becomes darker as they age, hence they can be difficult to identify from a distance (see the first photo in this post for an example where the “red ears” have been reduced to negligible red spots and all the yellow has been lost).

6 thoughts on “Logjams”

  1. Hi Jason – great lesson on turtle ID in that 4th photo. At first glance they look alike except the one with the read ear. I don’t think I would have known the other two were different species.

    I love those softshells – I haven’t seen those too often.

    That last photo is adorable!

    1. Cooters are probably my nemesis turtle species, Amber. They’re all so alike and the differences can be subtle. At a distance, I don’t even try to ID them beyond “river cooter”.

      I agree on softshells. I see snapping turtles more often. But seeing a softshell is a treat because they’re so unique and cool.

      And yes, I oohed and aahed over that little turtle sunning atop the adult, especially because it was in the same pose. Mini-me!

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