Range extends from southern New Jersey through Delaware, most of Maryland, eastern Virginia, and northeastern North Carolina. It also includes small adjacent areas of south central and southeastern Pennsylvania. A disjunct population exists in eastern Massachusetts.
This species lives in and around freshwater lakes, ponds, and rivers with muddy bottoms. They prefer areas with lots of aquatic vegetation and floating debris for basking near deep water. They are more terrestrial during nesting season in June and July.
This smooth-shelled river turtle averages 11-12 inches in carapace length, with some females reaching up to 16 inches. It has a moderately flattened shell that is oval-shaped when viewed from above. Juveniles start out with an intricate pattern of yellow to red squiggly lines on their dark green carapace, which fade with age and become subtle and more visible when the dark greenish-grey shell is wet. Its plastron is yellow with dark blotches along the scute seams, which also fade with age until adults have a completely yellow, unmarked plastron. Its skin is primarily dark olive to black with thin yellow lines which are more prevalent on the throat and neck, and sparse on the top of the head and legs. The posterior edge of its carapace is very slightly serrated.
Learn more with Schechter Natural History's Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians