Mississippi Mud Turtle

Family: 
Kinosternidae (mud and musk turtles) in the order Testudines (turtles)
Description: 

A small, dark-colored turtle of the swamps of southeastern Missouri. Normally dark brown or black. The lower shell is normally yellow with a rich mottling of brown. There are usually two wide and irregular yellow stripes along each side of the head and neck. Adults range in upper shell length from 3 to 4¾ inches.

Size: 
Carapace length: 3–4¾ inches.
Habitat and conservation: 
May be found in or near swamps, sloughs, oxbow lakes and canals. It is most often observed in shallow water and seems to avoid flowing rivers. During the spring and summer, they are often seen crossing roads and highways. Although the population of this species seems stable in our state, it is of utmost importance to preserve its natural habitats, especially remaining cypress swamps, oxbow lakes and sloughs.
Foods: 
A wide variety of aquatic animals and some plants.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Restricted to the counties of the Mississippi Lowlands of southeastern Missouri.
Status: 
The population appears to be stable in our state, but the natural habitats of this species must be preserved.
Life cycle: 
Apparently breeds from late April to early June. Females lay 1–6 eggs, possibly up to 3 clutches per season. Eggs are usually laid in well-drained, sandy soil. Incubation time averages 105 days. Females reach maturity at 6–8 years of age, when the carapace is about 3¼ inches long. Males become mature when the carapace is 3-3¾ inches long.
Human connections: 
The wetlands inhabited by these turtles are also home to many species of fish and waterfowl that are pursued by anglers and hunters. Protecting the habitat for these turtles helps fishers and duck hunters, too.
Ecosystem connections: 
This species is a predator of small aquatic animals, and there are many other animals that consume these turtles, especially the eggs and hatchlings.