Smooth softshell turtle

Smooth softshell turtle
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Family: Trionychidae
Subfamily: Trionychinae
Genus: Apalone
Species: A. mutica
Binomial name
Apalone mutica
(Lesueur, 1827)[2]
Apalone mutica mutica
  • Trionyx pusilla Rafinesque, 1822
  • Trionyx muticus Lesueur, 1827
  • Aspidonectes muticus
    — Wagler, 1830
  • Gymnopus muticus — A.M.C. Duméril, Bibron & A.H.A. Duméril, 1854
  • Amyda mutica — Agassiz, 1857
  • Potamochelys microcephalus Gray, 1864
  • Callinia microcephala
    — Gray, 1869
  • Potamochelys microcephala
    Boulenger, 1889
  • Trionyx muticus muticus
    — Webb, 1959
  • Apalone mutica — Meylan, 1987
  • Apalone muticus
    — Meylan & Webb, 1988
  • Apalone mutica mutica
    — Ernst & R. Barbour, 1989
  • Apalone mutica mutica
    — Stubbs, 1989
  • Trionix muticus — Richard, 1999
Apalone mutica calvata
  • Trionyx pusilla Rafinesque, 1822
  • Trionyx muticus calvatus
    Webb, 1959
  • Apalone mutica calvata
    — Ernst & R. Barbour, 1989
  • Apalone mutica calvata
    — Stubbs, 1989

The smooth softshell turtle (Apalone mutica) is a species of softshell turtle of the family Trionychidae. The species is endemic to North America.

Geographic range

A. mutica lives mainly in the Mississippi River drainage, including the Ohio River and the lower Allegheny River.


The smooth softshell turtle is usually brown or olive-colored, often with darker dots or dashes. The shell of the turtle is leathery and flexible. Many individuals, mostly including young turtles, may have a yellow ring around the outermost part of the shell. However, this is also true with other species of softshell. Apalone mutica is the only softshell without ridges in the nostrils.[4] Females are 18–35.6 cm (7.1–14.0 in) in carapace length; males, 12.5–17.8 cm (4.9–7.0 in).


Typical foods of A. mutica include various macroinvertebrates such as aquatic insects, crayfish, and occasionally fish.[5]


From May to July, adult females of A. mutica lay clutches of 3 to 28 eggs not more than 100 m (330 ft) from water in sandy areas.[6]


Two subspecies are recognized, including the nominotypical subspecies.[7]

Nota bene: A trinomial authority in parentheses indicates that the subspecies was originally described in a genus other than Apalone.

Sympatric species

Apalone mutica is sympatric with the spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera) over much of its range.[8]


  1. Tortoise & Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group (1996). Apalone mutica. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2.
  2. "Apalone mutica ". Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS).
  3. Fritz, Uwe; Havaš, Peter (2007). "Checklist of Chelonians of the World". Vertebrate Zoology. 57 (2): 306. ISSN 1864-5755. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-12-17. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
  4. Conant R. 1975. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, Second Edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. xviii +429 pp. + Plates 1-48. (Trionyx muticus, pp. 77-78 + Plates 6, 12 + Figure 52, opposite Plate 12 + Map 33).
  5. "Apalone mutica mutica ". Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
  6. Archived June 16, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. "Apalone mutica ". The Reptile Database.
  8. Williams TA, Christiansen JL. 1981. "The Niches of Two Sympatric Turtles, Trionyx muticus and Trionyx spiniferus, in Iowa". Journal of Herpetology 15 (3): 303-308.

Further reading

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