outdoorsJuly 1, 2024
Discover the elusive spiny softshell turtle of southeast Missouri, known for its unique leather-like shell and preference for sunbathing on dirt banks. Learn about its habitat, diet, and more.
story image illustation

This is a spiny softshell turtle. It is a common water turtle in southeast Missouri although it is not often seen. It seldom if ever basks on partially submerged logs like red eared slider turtles do. The spiny softshell prefers to sun itself on a dirt bank only inches out of the water where it can quickly dive in when alarmed.

The carapace (upper shell) of this turtle is very smooth and flexible like leather. It has a very distinct head and snout.

The spiny softshell turtle’s diet consists primarily of crawdads, fish and aquatic vegetation. Fishermen who try for catfish are more apt to catch a softshell turtle than those who fish for bass or crappie.

Don't miss the news!Get a weekly email with the latest news

AARON HORRELL is owner of Painted Wren Art Gallery in Cape Girardeau. He is a Bollinger County native.

Don't miss the news!Get a weekly email with the latest news