Kentucky is home to five species of turtles, all belonging to the family Emydidae. These include the common snapper (Chelydra serpentina), the painted turtle (Chrysemys picta), the red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta), the false map turtle (Graptemys pseudogeographica) and the Cumberland slider (Trachemys scripta troostii).
All five species can be found throughout Kentucky, but are most common in watersheds with permanent water bodies and permanent aquatic vegetation. The common snapper is the largest and most popular species with hunters and anglers.
It is often seen basking in sunny wetlands and on logs in deeper water. The painted turtle is especially colorful and can be found in ponds and large lakes with vegetation. The red-eared slider is the most widespread species in Kentucky.
It prefers small ponds, sluggish marshes and muddy creeks. The false map turtle inhabits moderate to large rivers throughout Kentucky, but is only rarely seen. The Cumberland slider is relatively uncommon and typically found in larger, permanent water bodies, such as lakes and ponds.
How do I identify a turtle I found?
Identifying a turtle that you have found can be a tricky task. To do so, you will need to look closely at the individual turtle’s colouration and pattern, size and shape, and the types of habitat where it is found.
To start, look closely at the colour, marking and pattern of the carapace (top) and plastron (bottom) of your turtle. Different species of turtles have different carapace appearances; for example, some are smooth and others are ridged.
Additionally, some species may have specific markings or be brightly coloured. This is the best way to get an idea of the species of the turtle you have found.
Next take a look at the size and shape of the turtle. Depending on the species, turtles can range from just a few centimetres to up to a metre in length. Also, turtles can come in a range of shapes such as oval, hexagonal, dome shaped shells.
The size and shape can help you narrow down the species even further.
Finally, look at the habitat where your turtle is found. Each species of turtle has its own preference in terms of water and land conditions, such as water depth, temperature, and vegetation. For example, sea turtles prefer to live in tropical or subtropical areas and tend to inhabit the open sea and coastal regions.
By looking at the specific habitat the turtle is living in, you can gain clues about what species of turtle it might be.
By closely observing the individual features of a turtle, you can gain a better idea of what species it might belong to. Additionally, a great resource for turtle identification is the Reptile Database which provides detailed information about turtle species from around the world.
Does Kentucky have alligator snapping turtles?
No, Kentucky does not have alligator snapping turtles. Alligator snapping turtles are native to the southeastern United States, including states such as Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and parts of Georgia and Florida.
These large turtles often grow to weigh up to 300 pounds and can reach lengths of up to 28 inches. They’re known for their distinct tongue lure and powerful jaws, which help them to capture their prey of small fish and crustaceans.
Unfortunately, the population of alligator snapping turtles has been declining due to over-harvesting, pollution, and habitat destruction. However, due to the efforts of conservationists and state and federal agencies, these turtles are beginning to rebound in some areas.
Does Kentucky have tortoises?
Yes, Kentucky does have tortoises! The Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) is the state reptile of Kentucky, and is found in every county in the state. There are also other species of turtles, such as the Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata) and the Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans), that inhabit the state as well.
Tortoises, which are similar to turtles, are not naturally found in Kentucky, but it’s not uncommon for them to be kept as pets. To protect the native wildlife, it is illegal in Kentucky to collect any Turtle or Tortoise from the wild.
Are box turtles native to Kentucky?
Yes, box turtles are native to Kentucky. Box turtles (Terrapene carolina) are found throughout the eastern and central United States, including most of the southern portions of Kentucky. These turtles have a noticeable high-domed shell that can range in color from yellow to brown, with ornate designs on the carapace (upper shell).
Box turtles prefer moist habitats, so they are most often found near streams, ponds, and wetlands, but they can also be found in more upland areas, even in suburban areas. In Kentucky, you may find box turtles in state parks, wildlife refuges, and anywhere that is not heavily developed.
Is it illegal to keep a snapping turtle in Kentucky?
In Kentucky, it is legal to keep a snapping turtle as a pet, but there are certain rules and regulations that apply. According to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, a person must have a valid aquatic species permit to keep a snapping turtle.
The permit will typically require applicants to provide basic information such as name, address, and contact information. Additionally, persons must provide the species of turtle they will be keeping, the nature of their possession, and the health and safety assurance for the animal.
In addition to the permit, the animal must be humanely confined in an enclosure that meets certain standards listed by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. It is also important to note that non-native species may not be kept and that turtles must be kept in a secure, temperature-controlled environment.
Furthermore, all permits must be renewed annually and personal possession is limited to no more than two turtles. Persons must also ensure that the animal is not released back into the wild as that is illegal.
Before considering a snapping turtle as a pet, it is important to research the animal’s needs and the rules and regulations for keeping it in Kentucky.
What states do alligator snapping turtles live in?
Alligator snapping turtles are found in the southeastern United States. Some of the states that they live in are Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. They are generally found in the states’ aquatic habitats, particularly those with strong currents and muddy bottoms.
They can be found in places like rivers, streams, oxbows, bayous, swamps, and other slow-moving bodies of water. The population has been declining due to overharvesting and habitat loss, so it’s important to protect this turtle from further population decline.
In some states, such as Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida, alligator snappers are listed as either threatened or endangered species; this means that it is illegal to harm, injure, or collect them.
What is the most invasive species in Kentucky?
The most invasive species in Kentucky is the Flowering-rush, also known as Butomus umbellatus. It is an aquatic perennial found statewide in a variety of aquatic habitats including shallow wetlands, streams and ponds.
Flowering-rush can grow in depths of up to 6 feet and is able to grow in dense foliage, shading out native plant species. It can reproduce by seeds, by bulblets formed at the base of its leafy stems and by fragmentation.
Flowering-rush is considered highly invasive, quickly crowding out native species, disrupting filtration systems, degrading habitat and preventing wildlife passage. If sightings occur, it is recommended to remove the species manually, by hand or by mechanical methods, although chemical control can also be used in extreme cases.
Can you keep a box turtle in Kentucky?
Yes, you can keep a box turtle in Kentucky, although there are some things to consider before bringing one home. Box turtles are territorial creatures and can become stressed when kept in captivity, so they should be provided with an environment that is as close to their natural habitat as possible.
A habitat should be spacious and contain a water feature, such as a shallow basin filled with water. Box turtles will also need areas for shade and sunlight, places to climb and burrow, and a variety of soils.
It is also important to provide box turtles with a nutrient-rich diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as insects, worms, and slugs. Due to their long lifespan, box turtles are a long-term commitment and may require decades of care.
It is important to research your local laws and regulations before bringing a box turtle home, as some states may require permits. Additionally, box turtles are protected in Kentucky and cannot be taken from the wild for captivity.
What tortoises can live in cold weather?
There are various species of tortoises that can tolerate cold weather, and it depends on where you live as to which species might do best in your area. For example, in the United States, the best choice for surviving the cold would be the Hermans Tortoise.
This species is native to Europe and can handle temperatures just above freezing. Additionally, the Russian Tortoise is a great cold climate tortoise and can handle temperatures near 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Gopher Tortoise is native to the southern United States and can also tolerate cooler temperatures. Other tortoise species in the Mediterranean region, like the Spur-thighed Tortoise and Marginated Tortoise, can also handle cooler temperatures well.
Whichever cold weather tortoise you choose, it’s important to make sure it has a secure and warm shelter to survive cold temperatures.
What is a gopher tortoise look like?
The Gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) is a large turtle native to the United States and the northern part of Mexico. They are characterized by their light brown or grayish carapace and tan or yellow plastron and are typically 6 to 9.
5 inches (15-24 cm) long in adulthood. They have small, stocky legs and a patterned shell with 5 “tubercles” down its center which indicates an adult animal. Gopher tortoises are most commonly seen in habitats such as longleaf pine and sandhill forests, occasionally seen in maritime or hardwood forests and open, sunny, dry areas.
They feed mostly on low-growing vegetation, such as grasses, berries, and cacti, while the juveniles consume a great deal of animal matter such as grubs, worms, and snails. Their natural predators in the wild include larger turtles, raccoons, skunks, foxes, and wild hogs.
What is the difference between a turtle and a gopher tortoise?
The main difference between a turtle and a gopher tortoise is their family lineage. Turtles belong to the family Testudinidae and are typically found in aquatic habitats such as ponds, lakes, and rivers.
Gopher tortoises, on the other hand, belong to the family Testudinidae and are found primarily in the sandy, dry ecosystems of the southeastern United States.
Turtles tend to have a smooth to slightly ribbed casing on the top, called a carapace, whereas the gopher tortoise has a hinged upper shell, called the plastron, with a static section on the bottom, its carapace.
Generally, turtles have webbed feet for swimming and are quite good swimmers. The gopher tortoise’s feet are not webbed and are actually more like an elephant’s foot. Gopher tortoises are best known for their digging capabilities; their sharp claws make them perfect tunnel builders.
Turtles tend to feed on smaller creatures like insects, crustaceans, fish, and aquatic plants; gopher tortoises are primarily herbivores, feeding on grasses, berries, and other vegetation found in their habitat.
Turtles have flat, beak-like mouths, whereas gopher tortoises have a slightly curved beak. Turtles are not known for vocalizing whereas gopher tortoises are known for making grunting or hissing noises.