Chicken Turtle

Chicken TurtleChicken Turtle — The Chicken Turtle (Deirochelys reticularia) is an uncommon freshwater turtle found in the southeast of the United States.

They are similar in appearance to the Eastern Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta picta), but have an unusually long, striped neck with a yellow stripe on both the forelegs and rear legs. It has a distinguishable net-like pattern on its carapace. The carapace is pear-shaped, and is an olive to dark brown. Females are usually larger than the males, and males have a longer, thicker tail.

Chicken turtles are regularly encountered on land, migrating between aquatic habitats or seeking areas to burrow into the soil and escape dry conditions. Males generally move farther than females. They spend much of their time basking. Chicken turtles hibernate in the soft mud and vegetation of bodies of water.

Wild chicken turtles have been recaptured up to 15 years old after their first capture. Some reached the maximum ages of 20 to 24 years.

Chicken turtles are semi-aquatic turtles, found both water and land. They prefer quiet bodies of water: Ponds, lakes, ditches, marshes, cypress swamps, and Carolina Bays. They prefer water with plenty of vegetation and soft substrate. Chicken turtles are tolerant of ephemeral aquatic habitats and readily travel onto land to burrow into the soil and escape dry conditions. They been found at water depths of a few centimeters to more than 2 m.

Chicken Turtles are omnivorous, eating crayfish, fish, fruits, insects, invertebrates, frogs, and tadpoles as well as plants. Chicken turtles use their well-developed hyoid apparatus to create suction that pulls food items into their throat.

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