Spiny softshell turtle

A turtle with a soft leathery shell and a pointy snout

Peter Paplanus

The shell of the Spiny Softshell is flattened (pancake-like), and some people also affectionately call them “free-range pancakes.” They are primarily found in rivers and lakes, although they can also be found in streams, ditches, and even ponds close to waterways. Their shell is olive-gray, brownish, or tan, and their edges are yellow with a black outline.

They bury themselves under mud at the bottom of the water, with only their head sticking out and catching prey as it passes. They can eat anything that fits inside their mouth, including insects, crayfish, and the occasional fish. Threats to their population include water pollution, habitat destruction, and habitat fragmentation.


Population est.
Québec, Ontario
United States

Did you know?

  • They are able to stay underwater for up to 7 months.
  • When hunting, Spiny softshells use their sight, chemical signals, and vibrations which help to detect the prey.

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No