Recognized Subspecies in VA: None
Size: 9 - 13 inches
Range: Coastal Plain
Status: Least Concern
The Coastal Plain Cooter is a newly described species, split from the River Cooter. These two are very similar species, hence the reason they were considered the same species just a year ago, and are both fairly herbivorous. Coastal Plain Cooters tend to prefer swamps and marshes opposed to lakes and rivers like the River Cooter.
Coastal Plain Cooters are supposed to have less than 12 facial stripes, though I think time will tell us how good of a field mark this truly is. Coastal Plain Cooters have a distinct “C” pattern on their P3 (plastral scute 3) that River Cooters lack. This works well if you can see the pattern, but often this pattern fades with age. Habitat and location a fair way to identify these turtles. There are several occasions where we have to just say this one is much more likely in this habitat and range so it’s probably this species, especially if the facial stripes align.
Similar Species: Eastern River Cooters, as I have have mentioned are easily mistaken for Coastal Plain Cooter. Northern Red-bellies Cooters are quite similar, and sometimes have bright red bellies or patterns to easily distinguish from this species, but sometimes seeing the cusp on the upper beak is the best way to ID. Sliders can be similar, but their pyramided shell, pattern, head-shape, and shell-shape should help with an ID.
Maps and External Sources
Herping Virginia encourages all naturalists to practice ethical, safe, and sustainable herping. The use of proper herping methods and techniques is beneficial to both wildlife and herpers. Visit the links below for more information.