Listed as endangered, the Alabama red-bellied cooter can be found in the central part of Alabama. Also been reported to be found in south-eastern Mississippi.
They are often found in shallow vegetated backwaters of freshwater streams, rivers, bays and bayous in or adjacent to Mobile Bay. They seem to prefer habitats having soft bottoms. They are herbivorous and the majority of their diet consists of underwater plants. Nesting usually occurs from May through July and hatchlings emerge at summer or spring.
The red-bellied turtle is on average 1 foot long. However, females are slightly larger and can have carapace length of up to 15 inches. The carapace color can appear green to black or brown with vertical markings that may appear reddish, yellowish, orangish along its sides. The under shell may appear pale yellow or red with or without dark markings. Colors are usually bolder in the juveniles. Legs, neck, head have yellow stripes. Males have fore claws that protrude. The notch at the tip of the upper jaw is a distinguishing characteristic and flanked on each side by a cusp. Eggs hatch in 73 – 80 days and hatchlings are about an inch long and independent at birth.
Learn more with Schechter Natural History's Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians