Apalone – North America softshell turtles

The North-American branch of genus Trionyx, that they used to be included at

These softshell turtles are known for their distinctive physical adaptations and behaviors, allowing them to excel in aquatic environments and on land. One of the most striking features of Apalone turtles is their light and flexible shells, which are crucial to their swimming prowess and enable them to move more swiftly on land than many other turtle species. This flexibility is due to the lack of bony scutes in other turtles, resulting in a shell that can bend and flex, aiding in their quick escapes from predators or when pursuing prey.

Apalone turtles are highly efficient swimmers, easily navigating through open waters or skimming through muddy lake bottoms. This agility is further complemented by their streamlined body shape and webbed feet, making them formidable hunters in their aquatic habitats.

Interestingly, softshell turtles have a unique adaptation called the “gular fold,” which is a flap of skin under their chin. This fold can be inflated to create a bubble of air that helps them breathe while buried in the mud or sand.

Dietarily, Apalone turtles are predominantly carnivorous, engaging in insectivory and piscivory with gusto. Their varied diet includes insects, crickets, worms, crayfish, fish, shrimp, and mussels, showcasing their adaptability and role as predators within their ecosystems. While primarily carnivorous, they are not averse to supplementing their diet with algal stocks and other plant matter, highlighting their opportunistic feeding habits.