Eastern River Cooter

Eastern River Cooter
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  • Item #: ERC
Scientific Name:  Pseudemys concinna concinna

Identification:  This large turtle has an elongated carapace (top shell) which appears brown to olive-brown with orange, yellow or cream markings. This turtle is distinguished from other river turtles by its backward-facing C-shaped markings, yellow to orange surrounded by black or brown, on the second pleural scutes. ECThe shell is also wrinkled ERCPwith slight serrations along the rear margins. The undersides of the marginal scutes have donut-shaped dark spots. The plastron (bottom shell) is yellowish with varied dark markings following the seams.
Range:  Found in streams and rivers with clear water and substantial vegetation, along with springs, lakes, swamps and ponds from east Virginia to east Georgia. There are isolated colonies in West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Diet:  While the species is highly herbivorous, river cooters will eat anything, plant or animal, dead or alive. Diet seems to be determined by available food items. Although this animal cannot swallow out of water, it will leave the water to retrieve a tasty bug or worm, returning to the water to swallow. Cooters will also enthusiatically chase, kill and eat small fish. They have also been observed eating carrion found along the river's edge. Their primary diet would include a wide variety of aquatic plants and will happily take fallen fruits as well. In captivity, they do well on Reptomin or Mazuri.  However, any kind of plant will be eaten.

These turtles can sometimes be found basking in the sun, but are very wary and will quickly retreat into the water if approached. Otherwise, they are difficult to find in the water, which may be due to their ability to breathe while fully submerged. One particular distinctive feature of the Cooters is that they have the ability to breathe underwater through a sac called the cloaca bursae which is based in their tail.  This allows them to stay underwater for extended periods of time, and makes their behavior harder to study. 
Diurnal by nature, these turtles wake with the warming sun to bask and forage. They can move with surprising speed in the water and on land. It is not unusual for them to wander from one body of fresh water to another, but many seem to develop fairly large home ranges, which they seldom or never leave. They sleep in the water, hidden under vegetation. While those that live in areas that are quite warm remain active all winter, river cooters in cooler climes can become dormant during the winter for up to two months, in the mud, underwater.  River cooters perfer to be well hidden under aquatic plants during the winter dormancy period or while sleeping each night.




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Price $25.00

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