Discover Maryland's Herps

Field Guide to Maryland's Turtles (Order Testudines)

Family Kinosternidae

Eastern Mud Turtle
Kinosternon s. subrubrum

Photo of Eastern Mud Turtle courtesy of Mark Tegges
Photo of Eastern Mud Turtle courtesy of Mark Tegges


2 - 4 inches. Record - 4⅞ inches.


Comparatively larger plastron (bottom shell) than the musk turtle, its cousin in Family Kinosternidae; has two conspicuous hinges, fore and aft, plus back lobe of plastron is narrower than front lobe. The pectoral scutes are triangular. The carapace (top shell) is clean, oval, smooth and brown to yellowish. It has straight sides and drops abruptly at the back.


Prefers slow-moving shallow water with soft bottoms and thick emergent and aquatic vegetation, such as ditches, wet meadows, small ponds, marshes, cypress swamps and Delmarva Bays. This species is very tolerant of brackish water, so may be locally abundant along tidal marsh edges, upland marsh hummocks and offshore islands.

Photo of Habitat for Eastern Mud Turtle courtesy of Tony Prochaska
Photo of Habitat for
Eastern Mud Turtle courtesy of

How to Find

Search along wetland edges and shallow water areas, but may also wander from water, particularly during egg-laying in May and June, when high dry sandy ridges are frequented.

Distribution in Maryland

Primarily found on the Coastal Plain but has been found on the Piedmont as far west as Washington County.

Maryland Distribution Map for Eastern Mud Turtle



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Maryland Amphibian
and Reptile Atlas Project

"A Joint Project of the Natural History Society of Maryland, Inc. and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources"

For monthly newsletters of the Maryland Amphibian & Reptile Atlas Project click on Recent Newsletters and scroll down to the MARA Newsletters.

The Maryland Herpetology Field Guide is a cooperative effort of the MD Natural Heritage Program and the MD Biological Stream Survey within the Department of Natural Resources and their partners. We wish to thank all who contributed field records, text, and photographs, as well as support throughout its development.