Thursday, April 16, 2015


On Friday of last week I spotted this yellow object in the middle of the road near the lake at the back of the NC State Fairgrounds.  Under this creamy coating of pine pollen and pine needles, I found a turtle.  

I took it to work and gave it a proper bath.  Of course the first thing that popped out at me were these long curved toe-nails on its front feet.  This is a male.  Now, what kind of male turtle is this?

Behind the eye there is a bit of a yellow blotch that connects to a yellow stripe that curves down the jaw toward the neck.

Another view of the head shows the yellow blotch behind the eye and more yellow striping on the turtle's jaw and foreleg as well as the marvelous toe-nails.  The slotted appearance of the turtle's eye is captivating to me.

The belly (or plastron) is uniformly yellow.  In the upper right corner of the picture you can see a dark spot on each of the two small V-shaped plates (gular scutes) nearest the turtle's head. There is a larger dark spot in the center of the somewhat squarish right pectoral scute.  The each of the marginal scutes have a dark spot or a dark ocelli (eye-like spot). 

The back feet also have yellow markings and are webbed for powerful swimming. The tail which is curved up to the right side is heavily marked with yellow.

The turtle's upper shell or carapace is blackish brown with yellow-orange markings.  The carapace is divided into 13 larger plates (scutes).  Down the back of the turtle are five scutes called "vertebralsthat encompass the spine .  On each side of the vertebrals are four costal scutes (a total of eight) that are associated with the rib-cage. There are 26 smaller marginal scutes along the edge of the carapace and a slender nuchal scute just above the turtle's head.  The marginal scutes along the back end of the turtle form a rather notched, jagged, or serrated edge.

Looking at the back end of the turtle there are vertical stripes of yellow next to the tail.  These are sometimes referred to as "yellow striped pants" in some reptile field guides.

This is another view of the "yellow striped pants" with the turtle's tail pointed in the opposite direction.

After consulting three long time turtle experts, it looks like what we have here is a Yellow-bellied Slider perhaps hybridized with a few Red-eared Slider genes.

Many thanks to Jeff Beane, Ed Corey, and Alex Netherton for their patience and help with interpreting the markings on this "pollinated" turtle.  After two days at my home he was released near where he was found.


  1. Really geat photos of that very interesting turtle. How nice of you to clean him off and get him back to his part of the woods.

  2. Robin Andrea,
    How is your mom? I've been thinking about her.
    Yes, this is a common turtle in our part of the country. They are difficult
    to tell from the two different cooters that also live here as well as the
    non-native Red-eared Sliders which often hybridize with the native
    Yellow-bellied Sliders even when you catch them out of the water like
    I did with this one. One of the fellows who helped me via Facebook with
    identification (a curator at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences)
    says there are probably very few pure Yellow Bellies left.
    This individual turtle was a great learning experience for me at
    almost 68 years old.
    Please give my best to Roger and your mother.

  3. Hi Aubrey, my mom is doing fairly well. She's a little nervous about her Follicular Lymphoma diagnosis, but has definitely recovered from the serious intestinal infection she had for more than a month. Roger and I are heading down to see her next week. Thank you for asking about her, and thank you for this education on Yellow-Bellies!

  4. Robin Andrea,
    I realized I had missed one of your posts and went back and got caught up on the many nice comments from your friends and followers as well as your always sweet replies. Glad the intestinal infection has been taken care of and hopeful that the Follicular Lymphoma is quite manageable for her. Just texted with my 65 year old younger brother last night and they are looking at a retirement home for his wife who has Parkinson's and low blood pressure problems. They're tying to figure out how to go from a nice big house where they've lived for 30 plus years and two Old English Sheepdogs that they both love, to a situation where he might be visiting his wife daily until he is ready physically and mentally and emotionally to leave all that other stuff behind and move to the retirement home, too. We agreed that old age is not that much fun sometimes. Blogging helps!
    Thanks for the comment about the Yellow-bellies. I like learning new details about creatures I've been familiar with for many years as well as brand new stuff that I've never seen before, but also sharing what I learn with the grandkids and whoever else is visiting the blog.
    Travel safely and say hello to Mom.