A Dan River Turtle:
the River Cooter

By William T. Hathaway

River Cooter

This article is a follow-up to my recent top view of the River Cooter Turtle. The adult River Cooters may reach a foot in length. Relatively young individuals have distinctive markings (upper photo) on the underside that may disappear as the turtle ages. Some older specimens are dark brown to black when seen from a distance. Dried mud on the upper carapace may appear as a gray color, and green algae on some specimens produce a dark greenish cast when moist. The notched bottom edge of the carapace is characteristic of the cooters (lower photo).

Winter months are spent in the mud or on the bottom of some river or body of water. While strolling along the Danville Recreation Department's “RiverwalkTrail,” proper weather conditions should allow anyone to spot these numerous turtles basking on rocks and partly submerged tree limbs.