Reptiles

Turtle, Chicken

RANGE:
Coastal plain of the southeastern U.S. from S.E. Virginia to Texas, and north to Oklahoma and Arkansas.

HABITAT
Prefers still waters as large ditches, ponds and small lakes. Weedy marshy ponds and cypress swamps.

SIZE
May grow up to 10 inches but 6 – 7 inches in average. They are easily identified by extraordinarily long, striped neck, almost as long as the shell. They have wide striped on the forelegs as well. The carapace and plastron will have net-like lines.

LIFE EXPECTANCY
Longevity for a wild caught specimen is 8 years, 8 months for a specimen still-living.

REPRODUCTION
Males are smaller with flatter-profile shells and the front claws are longer. Breeding starts in March but in Florida will breed all year. The turtles will lay several clutches of 5 – 15 elliptical eggs in nests. The female can retain the eggs up to 6 months waiting for favorable laying conditions.

DIET
The young are carnivorous, but adults will add vegetation to their diet. Typical foods will be fish, snails, worms, tadpoles, frogs, aquatic insects and crayfish.

BEHAVIOR
They can be seen basking on logs in large social groups. They will wander over large areas and are often seen crossing roads. They are timid and easily alarmed and will bite just as easily. They hibernate in the mud, in the northern part of their range.

POINTS OF INTEREST
They are called Chicken turtles for their long necks. And as the meat was once favored in Southern states it is said to be succulent and to taste like chicken.

STATUS
Common

REFERENCES

http://emys.geo.orst.edu/collection/genus/Deirochelys/Deirochelys.html