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?
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 "vertebrals" that 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.
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.