Sunday, March 24, 2013

Florida Chicken Turtle

The chicken turtle is found in the southeastern United States and is named for the taste of the meat (unfortunately I did not have an opportunity to try any, it apparently does not share the same culinary status that it used to). It has a long yellow-striped neck and a yellow stripe on the forelegs and rear legs. 
It has a net-like pattern on its olive to dark brown colored and egg-shaped carapice (top or back portion of the shell) which is not always easy to distinguish. 
The plastron (the flat or belly portion of the shell) is an un-marked yellow and the bridges between it and the carapice have dark splotches. The skin is olive to brown. It has a long, narrow head that comes to a point at the beak and which also has yellow stripes. They are often found on land, traveling between sources of water, and will also burrow into the soil during dry conditions. They prefer still water and dense vegetation. They also readily bite which I nearly found out first-hand. 
There are three sub-species: the western chicken turtle (found west of the Mississippi River), eastern chicken turtle (found mostly along and near the eastern and gulf sea coast from southern Virginia down to the Gulf of Mexico) and Florida chicken turtle (found only on the Florida peninsula). The Florida chicken turtle has broad orange or yellow lines on the carapice, 
a wide color band on the carapice rim and no markings on the plastron. 
The eastern chicken turtle has narrow green or brown lines on the carapice, a more narrow color band on the carapace rim and black markings on the underside of the lateral and rear marginals. We found this chicken turtle on a dirt road not far from our hotel near Homestead, Florida. There was a small, imperceptibly moving stream nearby and it had just laid eggs in a small hole in the middle of the road. 
When I picked it up I was quite surprised when it opened its mouth and hissed at me.  


  1. Quite a mean little varmint if you ask me.

  2. Luckiest turtle ever. Although I have to say if someone picked me up and started to turn me around I suppose I would start snapping too.

  3. is it ok if I have ur permission to use this pic for something?

    1. Yes, you can use the chicken turtle picture for printing on shirts for you son and two of his friends.

  4. Thanks! The kids will be stoked!