Turtles of West Virginia

Identification and Natural History


Back to Field Guide

Family: Chelydridae

  Eastern Snapping Turtle


Family: Emydidae

  Spotted Turtle

  Wood Turtle

  Eastern Box Turtle

  Northern Map Turtle

  Ouachita Map Turtle

  Eastern Painted Turtle

  Midland Painted Turtle

  Red-eared Turtle

  Eastern River Cooter

  Red-bellied Cooter


Family: Kinosternidae

  Stinkpot (Musk Turtle)


Family: Trionychidae

  Eastern Spiny Softshell

  Midland Smooth Softshell


     There are 13 turtle species in West Virginia in 4 families.  Almost all of our turtles are aquatic or semi-aquatic.  The box turtle is the only species that spends most of its life on land and hibernates in the soil; the rest hibernate underwater.  Many turtles have very long lifespans!  Box turtles can live well over 100 years and other turtles like the spotted turtle can live over 50 years.  Because turtles live so long, it is not so important that they produce many offspring every year.  In fact, most turtle eggs or the hatchlings are eaten by birds, foxes, or other predators. 

     Their ability to live incredibly long has resulted in the loss of many turtles in North America.  Many turtles are collected to be sold as pets, either in this country or overseas.  Spotted turtles and wood turtles are a favorite of collectors because these animals are very friendly and easy to care for.  Taking old adults out of the wild can lead to the loss of populations though.  It is important that habitat is protected for turtles, but also that turtles are protected from people interested in collecting them.

Click on the names to the left to learn more about each species.

Page was created by Jeff Humphries and is now maintained by the Herpetology Lab at Marshall University.

  Last update 2/03.
Questions or comments on the web page email Dr. Thomas K. Pauley at pauley@marshall.edu