Northern Red-bellied Cooter

Scientific Name: Pseudemys rubriventris rubriventris
Size: 10-12.5 inches (25.4-32 cm) in length
Status: Threatened Species

Large lakes, ponds, slow-moving rivers, creeks and marshes.

Large aquatic species. The upper shell is brown or black and usually has red and black markings with a spot in the center. The underside varies from pink to red. The head, neck, legs and tail have yellow stripes. The shell is smooth with slight notching above the tail.

Adult Coloration:
  • The carapace background color is brown to black. Each marginal and costal scute often contains a vertical reddish bar and a dark blotch with a lighter central spot. Individuals darken with age and become melanistic in older age.
  • The plastron is pink to salmon red.
  • The appendages are dark brown with yellow stripes.
  • The head is dark brown with a series of vivid yellow stripes that extend to the point where the neck merges with the body. A sagittal stripe passes anteriorly between the eyes and meets the joined supratemporal stripes on the snout, forming the prefrontal arrow. Five to eight stripes occur between the supratemporals behind the eyes. The paramedial stripes pass forward from the neck across the occipital region and terminate between the orbits. A supratemporal stripe bends upward from the neck on each side and enters the orbit.
Adult Characteristics:
  • Large aquatic species.
  • Profile View – The carapace is moderately domed and smooth.
  • Above View – The carapace is oblong with a smooth margin with slight serration posteriorly.
  • The plastron is large with a broad bridge.
  • The legs are well-developed and the feet are strongly webbed.
  • The upper jaw has a prominent notch at the tip with a tooth-like cusp on each side.
Juvenile Characteristics:
  • The carapace is brown to olive brown with yellow lines that divide the carapace in to a series of irregular geometric shapes.
  • The plastron has a bold dark irregular midline blotch that extends the length of the plastron.

Adult Gallery:

Juvenile Gallery:

May be Confused With:
  • Hulse, C. and McCoy C. J. and Ellen Censky ,1998. Amphibians and Reptiles of Pennsylvania and the Northeast. 230-232pp.
  • Ernst, Carl H. and Lovich, Jeffrey E., and Barbour, Roger W. ,1994. Turtles of the United States and Canada. 340-344pp.
  • Bob Hamilton
  • Brandon Curtis
  • Bob Ferguson
  • Sebastian Harris
  • Stephen Staedtler

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