Smooth softshell turtle

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Smooth softshell turtle
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Family: Trionychidae
Subfamily: Trionychinae
Genus: Apalone
Species: A. mutica
Binomial name
Apalone mutica
(Lesueur, 1827)[2]
Apalone mutica mutica
  • Trionyx pusilla Rafinesque, 1822
  • Trionyx muticus Lesueur, 1827
  • Aspidonectes muticus
    — Wagler, 1830
  • Gymnopus muticus — A.M.C. Duméril, Bibron & A.H.A. Duméril, 1854
  • Amyda mutica — Agassiz, 1857
  • Potamochelys microcephalus Gray, 1864
  • Callinia microcephala
    — Gray, 1869
  • Potamochelys microcephala
    Boulenger, 1889
  • Trionyx muticus muticus
    — Webb, 1959
  • Apalone mutica — Meylan, 1987
  • Apalone muticus
    — Meylan & Webb, 1988
  • Apalone mutica mutica
    Ernst & R. Barbour, 1989
  • Apalone mutica mutica
    — Stubbs, 1989
  • Trionix muticus — Richard, 1999
Apalone mutica calvata
  • Trionyx pusilla Rafinesque, 1822
    (nomen suppressum)
  • Trionyx muticus calvatus
    Webb, 1959
  • Apalone mutica calvata
    — Ernst & R. Barbour, 1989
  • Apalone mutica calvata
    — Stubbs, 1989

The smooth softshell turtle (Apalone mutica) is a species of softshell turtle of the family Trionychidae. The species is endemic to North America.

Geographic range[edit]

A. mutica lives mainly in the Mississippi River drainage, including the Ohio River and the lower Allegheny River.


The smooth softshell turtle is usually brown or olive-colored, often with darker dots or dashes. The shell of the turtle is leathery and flexible. Many individuals, mostly including young turtles, may have a yellow ring around the outermost part of the shell. However, this is also true with other species of softshell. Apalone mutica is the only softshell without ridges in the nostrils.[4] Females are 18–35.6 cm (7.1–14.0 in) in carapace length; males, 12.5–17.8 cm (4.9–7.0 in).


Typical foods of A. mutica include various macroinvertebrates such as aquatic insects, crayfish, and occasionally fish.[5]


From May to July, adult females of A. mutica lay clutches of 3 to 28 eggs not more than 100 m (330 ft) from water in sandy areas.[6]


Two subspecies are recognized, including the nominotypical subspecies.[7]

Nota bene: A trinomial authority in parentheses indicates that the subspecies was originally described in a genus other than Apalone.

Sympatric species[edit]

Apalone mutica is sympatric with the spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera) over much of its range.[8]


  1. ^ Tortoise & Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group (1996). Apalone mutica. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2.
  2. ^ "Apalone mutica ". Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS).
  3. ^ Fritz, Uwe; Havaš, Peter (2007). "Checklist of Chelonians of the World". Vertebrate Zoology. 57 (2): 306. ISSN 1864-5755. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-12-17. Retrieved 29 May 2012. 
  4. ^ Conant R (1975). A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, Second Edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. xviii + 429 pp. + Plates 1-48. (Trionyx muticus, pp. 77-78 + Plates 6, 12 + Figure 52, opposite Plate 12 + Map 33).
  5. ^ "Apalone mutica mutica ". Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
  6. ^ Archived June 16, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ "Apalone mutica ". The Reptile Database.
  8. ^ Williams TA, Christiansen JL (1981). "The Niches of Two Sympatric Turtles, Trionyx muticus and Trionyx spiniferus, in Iowa". Journal of Herpetology 15 (3): 303-308.

Further reading[edit]

  • Behler JL, King FW (1979). The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 743 pp. ISBN 0-394-50824-6. (Trionyx muticus, pp. 484–485 + Plates 268, 269).
  • Boulenger GA (1889). Catalogue of the Chelonians, Rhynchocephalians, and Crocodiles in the British Museum (Natural History). New Edition. London: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, printers). x + 311 pp. + Plates I-V. (Trionyx muticus, pp. 260–262, Figure 68).
  • Lesueur CA (1827). "Note sur deux espèces de tortues, du genre Trionyx de M[onsieur]. Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire ". Mémoires du Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris 15: 257-268 + Plates 6-7. (Trionyx muticus, new species, pp. 263–266 + Plate 7). (in French).
  • Smith HM, Brodie ED Jr (1982). Reptiles of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. New York: Golden Press. 240 pp. ISBN 0-307-13666-3. (Trionyx muticus, pp. 32–33).
  • Stejneger L, Barbour T (1917). A Check List of North American Amphibians and Reptiles. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. 125 pp. (Amyda mutica, p. 124).
  • Webb RG (1959). "Description of a New Softshell Turtle From the Southeastern United States". Univ. Kansas Pub., Mus. Nat. Hist. 11 (9): 517-525. (Trionyx muticus calvatus, new subspecies).