Coastal Plain Cooter
Pseudemys concinna floridana

Common Name:

Coastal Plain Cooter

Scientific Name:

Pseudemys concinna floridana



Pseudemys is derived from the Greek word pseudes which means "false" and emys which means "turtle".


concinna is derived from the Latin word concinnus meaning "well arranged or beautiful".


floridana indicates the state of Florida.

Average Length:

Virginia Record Length:

Record length:

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: The Coastal Plain cooter is a large aquatic turtle with an elongated carapace. The carapace is serrated along the back edge and is a brown to greenish brown base color with yellowish patterning. Markings are linear reticulate or concentric with vertical lines predominating. There are thick hollow ovals (dough nuts) on the underside of the 24 marginals (12 on each side) on the bridge. There are 8 pleurals (4 on each side) and 5 vertebrals. The plastron is hingeless, yellowish and has no markings. Skin is olive/brown and head and limbs have yellowish stripes. Lines on the dorsum of the head are thinner then elsewhere on the body. The maximum size measurements in Virginia are 270 mm carapace length and 247 mm plastron length *10760,11624,11407*. Females are larger than males. Average size of males from Virginia measured 197.9-270.0 mm carapace length, 179.8-247.0 mm plastron length. A single adult female (CM 24447) from Isle of Wight Co. was measured at 265 mm carapace length and 244 mm plastron length. Adult males have larger claws on the front feet and the cloacel opening protrudes past the carapace *10760*. Generally hatchlings are brighter than adults, but with the similar colors and patterns. They have a well-developed keel and a higher-arching shell *10760*. This species may be easily confused with Pseudemys rubriventris. The red-bellied turtle has reddish stripes on the pleural scutes, a reddish plastron, and a prominent cusp on each side of the notched upper jaw. Pseudemys concinna concinna, the river cooter, is very similar (as the other subspecies of P. concinna) but has a yellowish marking on the 2d pleural that resembles a backwards "c", more than 11 neck stripes, and the plastral scutes have a dark outline *10760,11624*.

REPRODUCTION: Little is known of the reproductive biology of this species in Virginia. The nesting season in South Carolina ranges from May-August. Clutch size ranges from 5-18 eggs, and females only lay one clutch per year. The eggs are ovate-elliptical, with soft shells and a pinkish white, slightly granular surface. Incubation is usually 80-150 days. In South Carolina the hatchlings typically overwinter in the nest. Females reach maturity at ages of 6-7 years whereas males reach maturity at about 3 years *10760*.

BEHAVIOR: These turtles spend a great deal of time basking and may bask in large or small groups or alone. During colder months this turtle buries in bottom mud and goes into torpor. This is an exceptionally wary turtle and therefore is not collected often. They only leave the water to nest or to move to another waterbody. They are mainly diurnal and are not active at night. Areas with extensive basking habitat, aquatic vegetation, and slow current are preferred. As adults these turtles eat aquatic vegetation. Juveniles are more carnivorous eating shellfish, worms, fish, and insects *10760*.

ORIGIN: This species is native *10760*.

POPULATION PARAMETERS: The population status of this species in Virginia is unknown. Growth has been measured in South Carolina as 20-40 mm annually for juveniles and 0-18 mm annually for adults. The population densities in 2 South Carolina waterbodies were 4.6-7.0 per hectare *10760*.

AQUATIC/TERRESTRIAL ASSOCIATIONS: Basking sites and adequate aquatic vegetation are essential for these turtles *10760*.

References for Life History

  • 1027 - Carr, A.F., 1952, Handbook of Turtles. Turtles of the United States, Canada, and Baja California, 542 pgs., Comstock Publ. Assoc., Cornell Univ. Press, Ithaca, NY
  • 2988 - Ernst, C.H., R.W. Barbour, 1972, Turtles of the United States, 347 pgs., Univ. Press of Kentucky, Lexington
  • 3067 - Conant, R., 1978, Field guide to reptiles and amphibans of eastern and central North America 2nd.ed., 429 pgs., Houghton Mifflin, Boston
  • 10760 - Mitchell, J. C., 1994, The Reptiles of Virginia, 352 pgs., Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC
  • 11407 - Conant, Roger and, Collins, John T., 1998, Peterson Field Guide: Reptiles and Amphibians, Eastern/Central North America, 616 pgs., Houghton Mifflin Company;, Boston
  • 11624 - Mitchell, J. C., 2001, Personal Communication, Expert review for GAP Analysis Project, Mitchell Ecological Research LLC


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Verified County/City Occurrence

Chesapeake City
Isle of Wight County
Norfolk City
Southampton County
Suffolk City
Sussex County
Verified in 6 Counties/Cities.


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