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10 Turtle Species Found in Georgia (With Pictures)

Nicole Cosgrove

Turtles are some of the oldest, most primitive reptiles around, dating back to the time when dinosaurs roamed the earth. They live in a variety of environments and can be found all around the world.

When it comes to turtle species, Georgia is no exception, and we have quite a few roaming the swamps, woodlands, and backyards of our state. In this guide, you’ll find 10 of the turtle species you’re most likely to find in Georgia below.

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10 Turtle Species Found in Georgia

1. Red Eared Slider

red eared slider in water
Image Credit: Piqsels
Species: Trachemys scripta elegans
Longevity: 20+ years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 12 inches
Diet: Omnivores

The Red-Eared Slider Turtle can be found in areas of Georgia that have warm, still water. The most common places to find them are in swamps, ponds, creeks, streams, and even lakes. Since they are a semi-aquatic species, they can live in or out of the water and can often be seen basking in the sun in groups or alone. However, they have to be near water and land to survive.

If you startle one of these turtles, they’ll slide back into the water to get away. They make pretty good pets and are omnivores, liking a diet of leafy greens, veggies, fruits, and proteins such as mealworms, shrimp, crickets, and pinky mice, when in captivity.

This species is named for its ability to slide into the water when startled and for the small red stripe around its ears. This species is thought to be invasive everywhere but in the south because people will get them for pets, then decide to just turn them out into the wild. Skunks, raccoons, and foxes are the natural predators of this species.


2. Eastern Box Turtle

esatern box turtle_Piqsels
Image Credit: Piqsels
Species: Terrapene Carolina
Longevity: 40 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 6 Inches
Diet: Carnivorous

The Eastern Box Turtle can be found in most of the Southeastern United States but are most prevalent in Piedmont’s open hardwood forests. This species is known as terrestrial turtles because they don’t have to be in the water to survive. Instead, they spend most of their lives, on land and not having to search out water to restrict their movements.

They do make good pets and live for over 40 years, even in the wild. One interesting fact about this species is that it’s easy to tell their gender. The female has yellowish-brown eyes, while the male’s eyes are red.

This species is primarily carnivorous as young turtles but become more omnivorous and will eat almost anything. The natural predator of the species are dogs, skunks, raccoons, ants, crows, coyotes, snakes, and hogs.


3. Common Snapping Turtle

common snapping turtle
Image Credit: Bernell MacDonald, Pixabay
Species: Chelydra serpentina
Longevity: 35 – 40 years
Good to own as a pet?: No
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 47 cm
Diet: Omnivores

The Common Snapping Turtle can be found in most fresh body waterways in Georgia. This includes lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams. While this species doesn’t make the ideal pet and isn’t recommended, they have become quite popular among turtle owners in recent years.

This species reaches 47 cm in length and can weigh in from 10 to 35 pounds. They can be found in all areas of Georgia. Common Snapping Turtles are omnivores, eating mostly plants, invertebrates, and small reptiles.

They prefer fresh bodies of water with muddy bottoms or water that is sandy and have the appearance of the Alligator Snapping Turtle. However, these turtles have a much lighter bite and aren’t as dangerous to humans as Alligator turtles.

Their natural predators include skunks, raccoons, and crows. Also, in some parts of Georgia, these turtles are considered a delicacy, and locals trap, cook and eat them.


4. Gopher Tortoise

gopher tortoise in the wild
Image Credit: Paul Brennan, Pixabay
Species: Gopherus Polyphemus
Longevity: 40-60 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 11 inches
Diet: Herbivores

The Gopher Tortoise is actually important to the ecosystem of Georgia and can live up to 60 years in the wild. They live in the Longleaf Pine Savannah in Southeast Georgia. They live in well-drained, deep soils, which makes it easier to tell the health of the land they’re on. They also spread seeds from local plants, which helps the land and environment in Southeast Georgia even more.

This species is a dry land turtle that is an herbivore, meaning they eat mostly grasses and mushrooms. One interesting fact about the Gopher Tortoise is they can live up to 100 years in captivity if they are cared for properly.

The natural predators of this species include opossums, raccoons, coyotes, dogs, cats, snakes, foxes, and birds.


5. Eastern River Cooter

Species: Chyrysemys concinna
Longevity: 40 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 12 Inches
Diet: Herbivores

The Eastern River Cooter can be found all the way from Eastern Virginia to Eastern Georgia and grows to around 12 inches in length. It lives in springs, ponds, lakes, and swamps and needs clear water and vegetation to survive and stay happy.

This species is predominantly herbivores, eating mostly aquatic vegetation. However, it has been known to dine on bugs but can’t swallow any of its food without water. Some people use these turtles as a source of food, but they do make good pets as well.

The natural predators of the Eastern River Cooter include alligators, muskrats, and humans.


6. Florida Softshell Turtle

Florida softshell turtle
Image Credit: nataniel67, Pixabay
Species: Trionyx ferox
Longevity: 30 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 12-24 Inches
Diet: Carnivorous

Although the species is called the Florida Softshell Turtle, these turtles can be found in Georgia as well. Softshell turtles are unique in their own right, but the Florida Softshell Turtle resembles a pancake.  It lives in roadside ditches, canals, and even streams. However, it’s one of the only softshell turtles that will live in a lake.

This species does make a good pet and lives for up to 30 years. These turtles are carnivores and survive on fish, insects, frogs, snakes, and small amphibians. They are also known to scavenge on occasion.

Natural predators of this species include foxes, raccoons, river otters, and skunks.


7. Southern Painted Turtle

Species: Chrysemys picta
Longevity: 25-45 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 6 Inches
Diet: Omnivores

The Southern Painted Turtle is small and can be quite colorful, as its name suggests. With yellow stripes peppering their legs and spots on their heads, all against a grey body, these tiny turtles are something to behold.

They make good pets and live for 25 to 45 years on average. They are omnivores existing on mostly aquatic plants, algae, and small creatures in the water. You can find them in habitats that have plenty of vegetation and muddy bottoms.

The natural predators of this species include humans, red foxes, and badgers, especially before they hatch, and the eggs can easily be stolen and eaten.


8. Loggerhead Sea Turtle

loggerhead sea turtle swimming
Image Credit: David Mark, Pixabay
Species: Caretta caretta
Longevity: 70-80 years
Good to own as a pet?: No
Legal to own?: No
Adult size: 43 inches
Diet: Carnivorous

The Loggerhead Sea Turtle is just what the name suggests, a sea turtle. These turtles grow to be 43 inches in length and can reach between 200 to 400 pounds, so they are intended to be kept as pets.

They live for 70 to 80 years and can be found in the ocean surrounding Tybee Island in Georgia. They are carnivores that feed primarily on fish and other small sea creatures. This is an endangered species of turtle, whose biggest threat comes from humans.

Other predators of this species include tiger sharks and killer whales, but mostly humans sadly.


9. Bog Turtle

bog turtle_Jay Ondreicka_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Jay Ondreicka, Shutterstock
Species: Glptemys muhlenbergii
Longevity: 40 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 4.5 inches
Diet: Carnivorous

Bog Turtles are tiny and only grow to around 4 inches and weigh under a pound, making them the perfect pet. They are carnivores that eat insects, worms, and other bugs. They are on the endangered species list as well.

Natural predators of the Bog Turtle include most small carnivores and the destruction of the species habitat.


10. Leatherback Sea Turtle

Species: Dermochelys coriacea
Longevity: 45-50 years
Good to own as a pet?: No
Legal to own?: No
Adult size: 74 inches
Diet: Carnivorous

The Leatherback Sea Turtle is the largest sea turtle known to man. It can reach 74 inches in length and weigh anywhere from 500 to 2,000 pounds, which means it does not make a good pet.

It’s also considered to be one of the largest living reptiles, only second to some species of crocodile. These sea turtles can be found in the oceans in Coastal Georgia, where they come to lay their eggs.

These turtles are carnivores, and their prey includes jellyfish. The natural predators of this species include dogs, ghost crabs, and other species that can carry off their eggs before they hatch.

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Conclusion

This concludes our guide on the top 10 turtle species you can find in Georgia. From the Leatherback Sea Turtle to the Bog Turtle and more, you’ll never lack the chance to see a turtle or even own one as a pet in Georgia. However, if you do decide to keep a turtle from Georgia as a pet, make sure you’re ready for the responsibility that comes with having a pet, just as you would be with any other species of pet out there.


Featured Image Credit: matos11, Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.