Spiny Softshell
Apalone spinifera

Description:  A large (up to 18") water turtle with a smooth, flat, leathery shell.  The skeletal elements of the shell are greatly reduced, and this turtle often rests on the bottom with its flattened shell lying flush or even partially buried - this serves to hide the turtle from both predators and prey.  Young turtles and males are boldly marked with facial stripes and a light marginal band, while old females have obscure and irregular blotchy patterns.  The turtle has a long, slender snout which allows it to breath without surfacing - using the snout as a "snorkel".

Habitat:  This turtle may be found in any aquatic situation but is most common in rivers and streams.

Distribution:  Probably occurs throughout the Nueces River and its tributaries.

Abundance:  Uncommon - we have only observed a single individual in the Nueces Canyon.

Conservation Status:  Like most large turtles in Texas, this turtle is threatened by over-collection for Asian food turtle trade.

Comments:  The subspecies of this species are poorly defined.