Types of Freshwater Turtles

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: May 17, 2020
Types of Freshwater Turtles

Are you thinking of adopting a turtle or tortoise? There are freshwater turtles all around the diverse and beautiful planet. They are found in lakes, swamps and even in riverbeds, however, they are also very popular pets, especially among young children. This is primarily because they are relatively easy to care for.

Keep reading this AnimalWised article to inform yourself about types of freshwater turtles to know which is best for you and your family.

You may also be interested in: Types of Pet Tortoises Around the World
  1. About freshwater turtles
  2. Red-eared slider
  3. Yellow-bellied slider
  4. Cumberland slider
  5. Pig-nosed turtle
  6. Spotted turtle
  7. Razor-backed musk turtle
  8. African aquatic sideneck turtle
  9. Painted turtle

About freshwater turtles

Turtles are classified as members of kingdom Animalia, phylum Chordata, class Reptilia, and order Testudines. There are thirteen families in the order and more than 356 species. Therefore, freshwater turtles are reptiles, like snakes and lizards. Wild freshwater turtles live in ponds and lakes, and they climb out of the water onto logs or rocks to bask in the warm sun.

This means that when adopting a freshwater turtle, you will need to provide them with a water tank to swim in and also a basking area on land where they can warm up and lay in the light. So, what about diet? What do freshwater turtles eat? Freshwater turtles have a varied diet that includes worms, snails, insect larvae, aquatic insects, crustaceans, water plants, algae and fallen fruit. We want to be able to recreate their natural diet when taking care of them at home.

Red-eared slider

To begin our list of the different types of freshwater turtles (or tortoise, depending on where you are from), let's talk about the red-eared slider. Although, its scientific name is Trachemys scripta elegans. Its natural habitat is in Mexico and the United States, Mississippi being its main home.

They are popular pets and very common in retail outlets all over the world. They can reach 11.6 inches (30 cm) in length, with the females being larger than males.

Their body is dark green and has some yellow colouring. However, its most prominent feature and the reason behind its name is two red markings on the sides of its head.

This type of turtle's shell is slightly inclined from the bottom up to its body as it is a semi-aquatic turtle, i.e., it can live either in water or on land.

This is a semi-aquatic turtle. They are easy to spot in the rivers of the southern US, to be more specific, in the Mississippi River.

Types of Freshwater Turtles - Red-eared slider

Yellow-bellied slider

Now let's turn to the yellow-bellied slider, also called Trachemys scripta scripta. This turtle is also from areas between Mexico and the US and is not difficult to find in the market.

Its name comes from the yellow stripes that give it its identity. They are found on their neck and head as well as on the ventral part of the shell. The rest of their body is a dark brown colour. They can reach 11.8 inches (30 cm) in length and love to spend periods by lakes enjoying the sunlight.

This species adapts fairly easily to domestic life, but if abandoned it can become an invasive species. That is why you must be very careful if you can no longer look after it, making sure that someone can accept it into their home, you must never leave a pet to their own devices. Learn more about their care on our article how to care for a yellow-bellied slider.

Types of Freshwater Turtles - Yellow-bellied slider

Cumberland slider

Now we have the Cumberland slider or Trachemys scripta troosti. They come from the US, particularly Tennessee and Kentucky.

Some scientists believe that this is the evolution of hybrid between two older species of turtle. They have a distinctive green shell with light yellow and black spots. They can reach up to 8.2 inches (21 cm) in length.

The temperature of its terrarium should be between 25ºC and 30ºC and must have direct contact with sunlight, as it will spend long hours enjoying it. They are omnivorous turtles as they feed on algae, fish, tadpoles or crayfish.

Types of Freshwater Turtles - Cumberland slider

Pig-nosed turtle

The pig-nosed turtle or Carettochelys insculpta is from northern Australia and New Guinea. It has a soft shell and an unusual head.

These animals that can measure a whopping 23.6 inches (60 cm) in length and can weigh 55 lbs (25 kilograms) of weight. Because of their appearance they are very popular in the world of exotic pets.

They are virtually aquatic and only come out of the water to lay eggs. These are omnivorous turtles that feed on both plant and animal matter but enjoy fruits and Ficus leaves.

This turtle can reach considerable size, it is for that reason that you must put it in a large aquarium. It should be live alone because they have a tendency to bite if they feel stressed. Avoid this problem by providing quality food.

Types of Freshwater Turtles - Pig-nosed turtle

Spotted turtle

The spotted turtle is also known as Clemmys guttata and it is a semi-aquatic individual measuring between 3-5 inches (8-12 cm).

It is very beautiful, has a black or blue shell with small yellow spots that also extend onto its skin. As is the case above, these are omnivorous turtles that live in freshwater areas. It comes from the eastern US and Canada.

It is threatened in the wild due to the destruction of their habitat and being captured for illegal trafficking in the pet trade. For that reason, if you decide to adopt a spotted turtle make sure it comes from breeders who meet the relevant requirements and permits. Do not encourage trafficking because together we will end up making this species extinct, the last of the family Clemmys.

Types of Freshwater Turtles - Spotted turtle

Razor-backed musk turtle

Finally, completing our list of types of freshwater turtles is the razor-backed musk turtle or Sternotherus carinatus is also from the US and many aspects of their behaviour or needs are unknown.

It is not especially large, measuring just 6 inches (15 cm) long and are dark brown with black markings. Its shell is like a small rounded bulb, characteristic of this species.

It practically lives in the water and like to mingle in areas offering lots of vegetation, where they feel safe and protected. Like the pig nose turtle, it only come ashore to lay its eggs. It needs a spacious terrarium that is practically full of water, somewhere it can feel comfortable.

An interesting fact is when this turtle feels threatened, it releases a foul odour that warns off possible predators.

Types of Freshwater Turtles - Razor-backed musk turtle

African aquatic sideneck turtle

Originally discovered in eastern and southern Africa, these freshwater turtles make a great pet as they are mostly active during the day. They are also easily acquired because they are, thankfully, not in the endangered turtles list.

African aquatic sideneck freshwater turtles can grow from 7-12 inches (18-30 cm) long. They can live up to 25-50 years. Something interesting about these turtles is their long neck. If ever upside down, their long necks can help them turn back around.

Types of Freshwater Turtles - African aquatic sideneck turtle

Painted turtle

These turtles are widespread across North America. They were names after their ornate shell marking. They grow around 4-10 inches (10-25 cm), males are slightly smaller than females.

In the wild, these turtles can live for over 50 years. They live in ponds and lakes across northern America, from Southern Canada to Mexico. You will often find them on a log, basking in the sun. In winter or cold weather they will hibernate. Like other freshwater turtles, painted turtles aren't the best domestic turtle to care for in a household with young children.

Types of Freshwater Turtles - Painted turtle

Whatever the species of turtle, don't forget that it is very important to know how to care for your pet turtle and provide a good fish tank adapted to their size to make them comfortable, because it is where they will spend most of their time. Also, do not forget that provide them with appropriate food as this is very important for their health and growth.

We hope you learned something new today! Discover great names for turtles on AnimalWised. If you have a pet turtle, we would love you to share a photo of them in the comments!

If you want to read similar articles to Types of Freshwater Turtles, we recommend you visit our Comparisons category.

Write a comment
Add an image
Click to attach a photo related to your comment
What did you think of this article?
Matamata turtles are freshwater turtles. they are really cool you should learn about them I did a project on them
Administrador AnimalWised

While we have a varied set of types of freshwater turtles, you're right that we don't have the space for all of them. Thank you so much for adding them to our list and we are always happy to hear of people learning more about animals!
found one in the street, should I release it near the lake or find a home for it?? sorry it's a small water turtle
satarii prins
water pets
I found 1of these turtles in the street . Should I release it near the lake or try to find a home for it.
1 of 9
Types of Freshwater Turtles