Gopher Tortoise

US Turtles & Tortoises List

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May 23, 2020 | by Alex Lamoreaux

Florida Softshell Turtle, photo by Alex Lamoreaux

In celebration of the 20th annual ‘World Turtle Day‘, our US guides have put together a list of the turtles and tortoises that we’ve encountered during our many tours throughout the US and Caribbean. Sure our tours might focus on birding, but tracking down cool birds takes us to genuinely beautiful and diverse habitats and we always take time to enjoy the other animals that we find. Maybe because they are so photogenic and cover a wide range of shapes, sizes and niches turtles and tortoises are always crowd-pleasers during our tours. From the pine scrub, marshes, and open sea of Florida to the Rio Grande River of South Texas to the wetlands of the West Coast and interior of the United States there are many different turtles and tortoises species, and we’ve been lucky to see at least 25 species during our tours! Our various Florida, Dry Tortugas, and Texas tours account for the majority of our species due to their subtropical climates and diverse habitats. Many of these shelled species are in some way ecologically linked with the birds we are after. For example, Florida’s Gopher Tortoises are keystone species that provide homes for Burrowing Owls; and 32 other bird species have been documented as burrow associates either through foraging and dust-bathing near, or taking shelter in tortoise burrows! Common Snapping Turtles eat young birds, and many smaller pond turtle species are common prey for avian predators like Red-shouldered Hawks and Bald Eagles. In fact, it has also been proven that evolutionarily turtles are more closely related to birds than they are to lizards and snakes! Below is our list of the 25 species of turtles and tortoises that we have documented (with locations and subspecies) on US and Caribbean tours – check it out, spend a few minutes enjoying these awesome animals, and join us on a tour to see them for yourself!

US Turtles & Tortoises List (25 species + subspecies)

Green Sea Turtle: TEXAS, HAWAII, FLORIDA, DRY TORTUGAS, NEW JERSEY

Loggerhead Sea Turtle: FLORIDA, DRY TORTUGAS

Leatherback Sea Turtle: CALIFORNIA

Green Sea Turtle, photo by Alex Lamoreaux

Spiny Softshell: TEXAS

-Texas Spiny Softshell

-Guadalupe Spiny Softshell

Florida Softshell Turtle: FLORIDA

Jardine River Turtle: FLORIDA

Common Snapping Turtle: FLORIDA, MAINE, NEW JERSEY

Eastern Mud Turtle: FLORIDA, NEW JERSEY

Striped Mud Turtle: FLORIDA

Common Box Turtle: FLORIDA, NEW JERSEY, OHIO & MICHIGAN

-Eastern Box Turtle

-Florida Box Turtle

Western Pond Turtle: CALIFORNIA, OREGON

Painted Turtle: TEXAS, CALIFORNIA, NEW JERSEY, MAINE, OHIO & MICHIGAN

-Eastern Painted Turtle

-Midland Painted Turtle

-Western Painted Turtle

Southern Painted Turtle: FLORIDA

Puerto Rican Slider: PUERTO RICO

Common Slider: FLORIDA, TEXAS

-Red-eared Slider

-Yellow-bellied Slider

Peninsular Cooter: FLORIDA

Texas Cooter: TEXAS

Florida Red-bellied Cooter: FLORIDA

Rio Grande Cooter: TEXAS

Blanding’s Turtle: OHIO & MICHIGAN

Diamondback Terrapin: NEW JERSEY

Texas Map Turtle: TEXAS

Texas Tortoise: TEXAS

Sonoran Desert Tortoise: ARIZONA

Gopher Tortoise: FLORIDA

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