Smooth Softshell Turtle

Wisconsin status: special concern

There are two species of softshell in Wisconsin. Softshells are easy to recognize by their long, pointed snouts and scuteless top shells (carapaces). Their top shells are kind of leathery looking and their feet are heavily webbed.

The smooth softshell's top shell has a smooth front edge. Males are olive-gray or brown with small dark dots and dashes. The females have mottled gray or brown shells and grow to be about twice the length of males. Both sexes have white or cream-colored bottom shells (plastrons). Behind each eye, this turtle has a faint peach line, bordered by black. It also has round nostrils, unlike the spiny softshell.

Smooth Softshell Turtle
Smooth Softshell Turtle

This turtle lives exclusively in large rivers. It particularly likes rivers with sandy bottoms where you might find it eating fish, mollusks, and crustaceans. It is especially suited for insect hunting.

Keep your eyes open the next time you're near the Mississippi or Wisconsin rivers. You might see this fast swimming wonder.