Range is restricted to areas surrounding the Pearl River system which stretches southward from central Mississippi along the border with Louisiana to the Gulf of Mexico.
This aquatic turtle prefers wide, swift-moving streams and rivers with sand or gravel bottoms and plentiful logs or emergent vegetation for basking.
Juveniles start out with very high, dark central peaks down their plastron. With age, these shrink and combine to form a continuous keel that is still darker than the rest of the shell. Its central and pleural scutes are generally a dull greenish brown, but its marginal scutes have a pattern of dark blocks or circles separated by yellow bars. The posterior marginal scutes are serrated. This turtle's skin is dark green to black with yellow stripes all over. It has large yellow patches behind the eyes which meet on the top of the head to form a trident-like shape. The edge of its mouth is pale whitish. Its plastron is yellow with dark coloration around the seams. It has a narrow head with a pointed snout. Females are about twice the size of males and can reach 9-11 inches in carapace length. Their heads also grow disproportionately large compared to males.
Learn more with Schechter Natural History's Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians