Indiana is home to various turtle species, both terrestrial and aquatic. Some of the species are distributed across large areas, while others, such as eastern river cooters and Blanding's turtles, are not as common in the state. Some Indiana turtle species, such as red-eared sliders and western painted turtles, make popular pets because of their bright colorings. However, it is illegal in Indiana to sell native species of turtles.
Spotted turtles have black upper shells that typically have orange or yellow spots on them. They also have spots on their legs, heads and necks. Even if there are no spots on their shells, they will have spots on their bodies. Spotted turtles are semi-aquatic, meaning that they spend some of their lives on land and some in the water. The habitat of these turtles must include land and shallow water, such as shallow ponds, streams, bogs and marshes. They often travel among several suitable habitats.
Red-eared sliders have yellow stripes on the upper half of their shells, their legs and their heads. Their base color is dark green, but may become black with age. They have one bright red marking on either side of their heads, hence the name red-eared slider.
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These turtles belong to the pond slider family. They are semi-aquatic, living in freshwater sources such as ponds, streams, lakes and marshes. Unlike spotted turtles, red-eared sliders only travel for mating and hibernation purposes. They will also seek new homes if their habitats dry out.
Stinkpot turtles are semi-aquatic, but they are more aquatic than they are terrestrial. Their habitats contain shallow freshwater sites with bottoms they can bury themselves in during hibernation. They do not often bask on land, but they will during nesting. Stinkpots are black, brown or green. They have black stripes or dots on their upper shells and also have white or yellow stripes over and beneath both eyes. The turtles have musk glands that secrete an unpleasant odor as a defense mechanism.
Eastern Mud Turtles
Eastern mud turtles are small turtles that do not reach even 5 inches in length. They have dark brown or green upper shells with no decorative markings but they may have yellow markings on either side of their faces. They are semi-aquatic, but do not swim well. They typically walk on the bottom of their water habitats rather than swim in them.
Map turtles, or sawback turtles, are semi-aquatic turtles that live in swamps, streams, ponds and marshes. The name sawback derives from a series of bumps found down the center of the carapaces of some map turtles. There are four subspecies of map turtles that live in Indiana -- the northern map, false map, Mississippi map and Ouachita map turtles.
Two types of snapping turtles live in Indiana -- alligator snapping turtles and eastern snapping turtles. Alligator snapping turtles are among the largest aquatic turtles on Earth. Eastern snapping turtles are also aquatic. Both have hooked jaws.
Softshell Turtles of Indiana
Softshell turtles are aquatic turtles that have soft shells, hence the name. They also have long necks and snouts. There are two subspecies of these turtles in Indiana -- midland smooth softshells and eastern spiny softshells.
Box Turtles of Indiana
Indiana is home to two types of box turtles. Eastern box turtles are terrestrial turtles with brown or black shells and yellow or orange patterns of varying type. Ornate box turtles are also terrestrial and have yellow lines on each scute, or scale, of their carapaces.
Painted Turtles of Indiana
Painted turtles are semi-aquatic turtles that get their names from the elaborate designs that sometimes show up on their lower shells. Indiana is home to two types of painted turtles -- midland painted turtles and western painted turtles. Both types are pond turtles that live in fresh water.