black-breasted leaf turtle

Growing no longer than four inches, the black-breasted leaf turtle is one of the world’s smallest turtles. This primarily terrestrial turtle blends in with leaf litter on the forest floor. Like a chameleon, it can move its eyes independently, which presumably provides an advantage when pursuing prey.

Yellow Pond Turtle

An omnivore, the yellow pond turtle uses its beak-like jaws to eat both small animals and aquatic plants. A semi-aquatic species, the yellow pond turtle has webbed toes and never strays far from water. Most active at night, it spends a good deal of time basking during the day.

Loggerhead Musk Turtle

When threatened, the loggerhead musk turtle secretes a foul-smelling liquid from glands at the base of its tail that has earned it the nickname ‘stinkpot’. Growing up to five inches long, this omnivorous turtle is found in muddy-bottomed lakes, ponds, and streams in the southeastern United States.

Helmeted Turtle

Making its home in temporary marshes, mud pits and watering holes of the savannah, the helmeted turtle is an aggressive predator of small aquatic creatures.  Groups of helmeted turtles have been known to work together to take down larger prey such as a bird.  At the end of the rainy season, the turtle burrows into a mud hole bottom until the rains return.


The matamata turtle sits camouflaged on the bottom of a stream and waits for an unsuspecting fish to swim by. Once a fish is within reach, the turtle thrusts its head forward, opens its mouth as wide as possible and sucks in the fish like a vacuum. The turtle swallows the fish whole.


Barbour’s map turtle

The Barbour’s map turtle lives in clear flowing rivers found in Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Often spotted basking in the sun on top of rocks and snags, the turtle will dive into the water when threatened. In this turtle species, females grow to more than double the size of males.

Spotted Turtle

Spotted turtles gather together on a log to spend a sunny day basking. If alarmed, they will dive into the water and bury themselves in the mud for protection. They also burrow in the mud to escape the heat on very warm days and to hibernate during the winter.

Red-eared Slider

The red-eared slider is named for the bright red patches on the sides of its head and the way it slides into the water when alarmed. As a sociable species, the red-eared slider often climbs atop one another while basking in the sun on a log or rock emerging from the water.

Radiated Tortoise

Sporting a striking star-shaped pattern of yellow streaks on its high-domed shell, the radiated tortoise is considered one of the world’s most beautiful tortoises. Unfortunately, its beauty makes the tortoise a target for the pet trade, which is one of the threats it faces in the wild.

Pancake Tortoise

The pancake tortoise is named for its flat and flexible shell, which helps it escape predators. The tortoise is able to squeeze into small crevices and hold on tight. By rotating the front limbs and digging it with its claws, the tortoise is very difficult for a predator to pry out.