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Turtles/Turtle Identification


QUESTION: We have not been able to identify this turtle, found in our backyard Koi pond, on the web. Can you tell us what type it is? If not, I have a new name for the species - Shelbae - after the name of the turtle we caught - Shelby. See photo.


Do you have more pictures?  Specifically from the side/bottom (plastron). It looks like a species of musk turtle, but there are a few native to Georgia.  Also, a size reference would be helpful.  In any case, the turtle should be released if it hasn't already.

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QUESTION: Turtle has since been release where found. But still curious to identify.

Thanks for the additional pics!  They helped a lot. What I thought might be a hatchling musk turtle (there can be a surprising amount of color variation, and many species look very similar as hatchlings) is instead a box turtle, mostly likely an Eastern BT. I was also thrown off by it being found in (?) your pond. Box turtles are generally in wetter areas, but not actually in bodies of water.  If there are good hiding areas along the shore of your pond, the little guy might have been taking cover there.  Box turtles do have a hinged plastron so they can close their shells up completely, but it doesn't fully develop until they're a little older. I hope that answers your question, but if you want to know more, please ask!


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Questions regarding husbandry of Russian tortoises and other Mediterranean species, sulcata, and redfoot tortoises; general tortoise and turtle care; box turtle care. If I can't answer a specific question, I can provide sources for further research. Disclaimer: My advice is not a substitute for vet care. If I think your tortoise/turtle has a specific medical condition or injury that warrants a vet visit, I'll tell you so, and if possible I'll help you locate a vet. It is neither legal nor ethical for me to provide veterinary advice.


I have kept and bred Russian tortoises for over ten years and have other Mediterranean species plus redfoots and box turtles. I've worked with other tortoise and turtle species while doing volunteer rescue work; mostly sulcata but some leopards, California desert tortoises, yellowfoots, all box turtle species, red-eared sliders, etc. I don't personally keep aquatic species, but have access to a wealth of information and research to help you with any questions you might have.

My knowledge is based on hands-on experience keeping, breeding, and working with tortoises and turtles.

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