Midland Smooth Softshell

Apalone mutica mutica
Trionychidae (softshells) in the order Testudines (turtles)

This aquatic species of turtle has a round, smooth upper shell without scutes, extensive webbing on front and hind limbs, and a long, tubular snout. General coloration of the upper shell varies with age and sex. Male smooth softshells and young have an olive-gray or brown upper shell with faint markings of dots and dashes. Adult females have a mottled upper shell with blotches of gray, olive or brown. The lower shell of this species is a plain cream color. Head and limbs are olive or gray above, and light gray or cream-colored below. A light yellow line bordered by black is usually present behind each eye.

Adult male midland smooth softshells range in upper shell length from 4 to 7 inches; adult females range from 6 to 14 inches.
Habitat and conservation: 
Inhabits large rivers and streams where sand or mud is abundant. It has also been found in large oxbow lakes and constructed reservoirs.
Softshells eat a variety of aquatic animals including fish, crayfish, tadpoles, snails and aquatic insects. In the wild this species is no threat to game fish populations.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Presumed to be statewide, especially in large rivers
Due to channelization of rivers and loss of sand bars, the midland smooth softshell is likely declining in Missouri. This reptile is considered a game animal in Missouri, with a season and daily bag limit; consult the Wildlife Code of Missouri for current regulations.
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