Ambassador since 2008
- Softshell turtles are so named because their bony skeleton is covered with leathery skin instead of scales. ‘Spiny’ refers to the row of bumps, or tubercles, on the front edge of the carapace, or top shell.
- Softshell turtles prefer to bury themselves in underwater substrate. They use their long necks to grab prey, including aquatic insects, crayfish and sometimes fish, as they pass by.
- Spiny soft-shelled turtles inhabit flowing waters throughout our area. They are particularly common in the Fox River, where they sometimes can be spotted basking on logs and boulders.
- Tortuga is a male, as indicated by his thick tail. Male spiny softshells grow to around 8 inches in length, while females can attain lengths up to 21 inches!
- When Tortuga came to the park district as a surrendered pet, he was severely undersized and his shell was covered with a cottony fungus. We cured his infection but were not able to correct his curved shell, which is a deformity caused by malnutrition and poor lighting.