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25 Turtles Found in Virginia (with Pictures)

Nicole Cosgrove

Given that Virginia has woodlands, flatlands, swampy marshes, and ocean areas, it’s not surprising that there are tons of turtles in the state. In fact, Virginia has one of the most active Herpetological societies, just proving how popular turtles are within the state.

In fact, you can find turtles in every county in Virginia. That being said, certain turtles are found in specific regions. Read on to learn more about the 25 turtles found in Virginia.

divider-turtle25 Turtles Found in Virginia

1. Snapping Turtle

Snapping Turtle_sebartz_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Sebartz, Shutterstock
Species: Chelydra serpentina
Longevity: 30 years
Good to Own as a Pet? No
Protected? No
Adult size: 8-14 in., 10-35 lbs.
Diet: Mainly carnivorous

The first turtle up on our list is the Snapping Turtle. The Snapper is a large freshwater turtle that is often brown and very muscular looking. As the name suggests, these turtles are known for being a bit more aggressive than others and will bite humans. In fact, Snapping Turtles are known to eat just about anything they can get their beaks on.


2.Eastern Spiny Softshell

Species: Apalone spinifera spinifera
Longevity: 50 years
Good to Own as a Pet? No
Protected? No
Adult size: 5-17 in.
Diet: Mainly carnivorous

The Eastern Spiny Softshell is a really peculiar looking turtle. It has spine-like features on its carapace. These turtles are found in freshwater, and their shells are much more leathery than traditional turtles. Their noses are also peculiar because they are long and pointy.


3. Spotted Turtle

Spotted Turtle_ Jay Ondreicka_Shutterstock
Image credit: Jay Ondreicka, Shutterstock
Species:  Clemmys guttata
Longevity: 25-50 years
Good to Own as a Pet? Yes
Protected? No
Adult size: 3.5-5 in.
Diet: Mainly carnivorous

Spotted Turtles are small but cute. These freshwater turtles are often dark with yellow, orange, or cream spots. Spotted Turtles make great pets in certain states because of their gentle yet attractive nature, but their small size means that they aren’t legal in all states.


4. Eastern Painted Turtle

Species: Chrysemys picta picta
Longevity: 25-30 years
Good to Own as a Pet? Yes
Protected? No
Adult size: 4-6 in.
Diet: Mainly carnivorous

One of the cutest turtles found in Virginia is the Eastern Painted Turtle. These turtles are very small and docile. They are found in freshwater and are known to have borders of yellow or bright orange, which is why they are called “Painted.” These turtles make great pets because they are so gentle and beautiful to look at.


5. Eastern River Cooter

Eastern River Cooter side view_Pantherius_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Pantherius, Shutterstock
Species:  Pseudemys concinna concinna
Longevity:  Up to 40 years
Good to Own as a Pet? Yes
Protected? No
Adult size: 9-12 in.
Diet: Omnivorous

The Eastern River Cooter is a large freshwater turtle that is typically found in river areas. There are two subspecies in Virginia, though they are nearly identical to an untrained eye. Unlike many other turtles, the Eastern River Cooter is only active during the day and can often be seen basking on logs.


6. Costal Plain Cooter

Species:  Pseudemys concinna floridana
Longevity: 44 years
Good to Own as a Pet? No
Protected? No
Adult size: 9-13 in.
Diet: Omnivorous

The Coastal Plain Cooter belongs to the same family as the Eastern River Cooter, but it is only found in the coastal plain area of Virginia. These turtles are primarily aquatic. Interestingly, Coastal Plain Cooters are newer additions to the Virginia wildlife population. They were only first confirmed in 1991 in the state.

 


7. Northern Red-Bellied Cooter

Northern Red Bellied CooterNorthern Red Bellied Cooter side view_M.Huston_Shutterstock
Image Credit: M. Huston, Shutterstock
Species:  Pseudemys rubriventris
Longevity: 40-55 years
Good to Own as a Pet? No
Protected? No
Adult size: 10-12 in.
Diet: Omnivorous

Northern Red-bellied Cooters are some of the most striking Cooters. Their carapace is often so dark that it appears black. What makes it stand out is that it has red vertical lines that clash against the black carapace. These turtles are typically only found in mid and eastern Virginia.


8. Stripe-necked Musk Turtle

Species:  Sternotherus minor peltifer
Longevity: 30-50 years
Good to Own as a Pet? Yes
Protected? No
Adult size: 3-4 in.
Diet: Omnivorous

The Striped-necked Musk Turtle is only found in the westernmost tip of Southern Virginia. These turtles are small and aquatic. They have a unique shell design in that each vertebral chute overlaps the chute behind it. This is one of the few turtles that are completely aquatic yet are only found in rivers and other freshwater areas.


9. Eastern Musk Turtle

Two Eastern Musk Turtle on the rocks_Candy Plus_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Candy Plus, Shutterstock
Species:  Sternotherus odoratus
Longevity: 30-50 years
Good to Own as a Pet? Yes
Protected? No
Adult size: 2-4.5 in.
Diet: Omnivorous

The Eastern Musk Turtle, sometimes just called the Musk Turtle, is the most basic form of Musk. It is named because of the odd smell that is released whenever it is scared. These turtles are very easy to care for, which is why they make great pets for turtle lovers.


10. Woodland Box Turtle

Species:  Terrapene carolina carolina
Longevity: 25-35 years
Good to Own as a Pet? Yes
Protected? No
Adult size: 4.5-6 in.
Diet: Omnivorous

The Woodland Box Turtle is one of the easiest turtles to find in Virginia. It can be found in nearly every county in the state, as well as most other surrounding states. These turtles are very bright because they often have a high variable pattern that is either orange or yellow.


11. Red-eared Slider

Image credit by: Pixabay
Species:  Trachemys scripta elegans
Longevity: 30 years
Good to Own as a Pet? Yes
Protected? No
Adult size: 5-8 in.
Diet: Omnivorous

Red-eared Sliders are a favorite turtle pet. Their most distinctive features are the red patterns that fall behind the eyes, almost like red ears. These turtles are a freshwater species who love to bask, especially when laying on their other Red-eared Slider brethren.


12. Yellow-bellied Slider

Yellow-Bellied Slider
Image Credit: DEZALB, Pixabay
Species:  Trachemys scripta scripta
Longevity: 30 years
Good to Own as a Pet? yes
Protected? No
Adult size: 5-8 in.
Diet: Omnivorous

Yellow-bellied Sliders have distinctive yellow bellies while their top coloration is typically olive or brown with minor yellow markings. These turtles can be pretty large and are primarily found around bodies of fresh water. There are multiple Yellow-bellied Slider subspecies within the state.


13. Cumberland Slider

Species:  Trachemys scripta troostii
Longevity: 40-50 years
Good to Own as a Pet? No
Protected? Yes
Adult size: 5-8 in.
Diet: Omnivorous

There are a bit more restrictions around owning Cumberland Sliders as pets, but they are still phenomenal turtles. Like the other sliders, they are considered large freshwater turtles. They often have single yellow markings that run vertically. There are quite a few geographic variations for Cumberland Sliders as well, including their size and patterns.


14. Striped Mud Turtle

Striped Mud Turtle side view_Feelartfeelant_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Freeartfeelant, Shutterstock
Species:  Kinosternon baurii
Longevity: Up to 40 years
Good to Own as a Pet? Yes
Protected? No
Adult size: 3-4 in.
Diet: Omnivorous

Striped Mud Turtles are small specimens that make great pets. Found primarily in freshwater regions, this turtle is omnivorous. It has a striking appearance because it is so small yet nearly completely black. It may have a couple cream stripes, but the rest is very dark.


15. Southeastern Mud Turtle

Species:  Kinosternon subrubrum subrubrum
Longevity: 30-50 years
Good to Own as a Pet? Yes
Protected? No
Adult size: 2.75-4 in.
Diet: Omnivorous

As you would expect from their similar names, the Southeastern Mud Turtle is very similar to the Striped Mud Turtles. It is very small yet docile, making it a favorite pet turtle. Its scales do not overlap, creating a generally smooth or flattened shell. These turtles aren’t quite as dark as the Striped Muds, but they don’t have much patterning either.


16. Northern Map Turtle

Mississippi map turtle
Image Credit: Gabbie Berry, Shutterstock
Species:  Graptemys geographica
Longevity: 15-20 years
Good to Own as a Pet? Yes
Protected? No
Adult size: 3.25-10.8 in.
Diet: Mainly carnivorous

Northern Map Turtles are named because their shell looks much like the earth. This large freshwater turtle typically has colors of brown, olive, yellow, cream, and green. These turtles were first found in 1817 around Lake Erie, but they can now be found in many locations around the United States, Virginia included.


17. Eastern Chicken Turtle

Species:  Deirochelys reticularia reticularia
Longevity: 20-24 years
Good to Own as a Pet? No
Protected? Yes, State Endangered
Adult size: 4-6 in.
Diet: Mainly carnivorous

Even though these turtles have a funny name, Eastern Chicken Turtles are no laughing matter. These turtles are classified as state endangered. These animals are endangered primarily because of predation by Snapping Turtles and raccoons.

They are moderately sized and have one of the most unique shell colorations and patterns. Their shells are comprised of green, orange, blue, and yellow patterning, which makes them stand out.


18. Wood Turtle

Wood Turtle side view_Jay Ondreicka_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Jay Ondreicka, Shutterstock
Species:  Glyptemys insculpta
Longevity: 15-50 years
Good to Own as a Pet? No
Protected? Yes, State Threatened
Adult size: 5.5-8 in.
Diet: Mainly carnivorous

Wood Turtles are moderately sized semi-aquatic turtles that are listed as threatened in multiple states, including Virginia. They have a brown carapace and short black and yellow lines that radiate across its body. Wood Turtles are one of the easiest to spot because no other turtle in Virginia has a shell like it.


19. Bog Turtle

bog turtle_Jay Ondreicka_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Jay Ondreicka, Shutterstock
Species: Glyptemys muhlenbergii
Longevity: 40-50 years
Good to Own as a Pet? No
Protected? Yes, Federal Threatened and State Endangered
Adult size: 3-3.5 in.
Diet: Mainly carnivorous

Bog Turtles are one of the most protected species. They are listed as threatened on the federal level and endangered on the state level. It is believed that these turtles are decreasing in population due to illegal pet trade activity and loss of natural habitat.


20. Northern Diamond-backed Terrapin

Species:  Malaclemys terrapin terrapin
Longevity: 25-40 years
Good to Own as a Pet? No
Protected? Yes, Federal Species of Concern
Adult size: 4-9 in.
Diet: Mainly carnivorous

One of the most striking turtles found in Virginia is the Northern Diamond-backed Terrapin. These turtles are named because they have a wedge shaped carapace and concentric growth rings. Unfortunately, these gorgeous turtles are classified as a federal species of concern.


21. 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
Protected? Yes, Federal Threatened and State Endangered
Adult size: 31-45 in.
Diet: Carnivorous

On Virginia’s coast, you can occasionally find Loggerhead Sea Turtles. These turtles are considered federally threatened and state endangered.


22. Green Sea Turtle

Green Sea Turtle_Pixabay
Image Credit: Pixabay
Species:  Chelonia mydas
Longevity: 70 years
Good to Own as a Pet? No
Protected? Yes, Federal Threatened and State Threatened
Adult size: 36-48 in., 250-450 lbs.
Diet: Carnivorous

Another type of sea turtle you may find on the Virginian coast is the Green Sea Turtle. This turtle has a smooth appearance. When most people think of sea turtles, this is the sea turtle they think of. It is threatened on both the federal and state level.


23. Leatherback Sea Turtle

Species:  Dermochelys coriacea
Longevity: 30 years
Good to Own as a Pet? No
Protected? Yes, Federal Endangered and State Endangered
Adult size: 50-70 in., 650-1,200 lbs.
Diet: Carnivorous

Leatherback Sea Turtles have a shell that feels more like leathery skin. They are often black or dark blue with a number of white spots. Like other sea turtles found in Virginia, they are classified as endangered on the federal and state level.


24. Atlantic Hawksbill Sea Turtle

Species:  Eretmochelys imbricata imbricata
Longevity: 50-60 years
Good to Own as a Pet? No
Protected? Yes, Federal Endangered and State Endangered
Adult size: 30-35 in., 95-165 lbs.
Diet: Carnivorous

The Atlantic Hawksbill Sea Turtle is brown with almost a tortoise-like shell; it includes colors of amber, brown, and black. As these turtles get older, they often appear more uniformly dark brown. These sea turtles are classified as endangered for the state and federal levels.


25. Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle

Species:  Lepidochelys kempii
Longevity: 30  years
Good to Own as a Pet? No
Protected? Yes, Federal Endangered and State Endangered
Adult size: 23-27.5 in.
Diet: Carnivorous

Finally, the last turtle you can find in Virginia is the Kemps Riley Sea Turtle. This turtle has a smooth and round carapace that is typically gray. As you probably expect, the sea turtle is classified as endangered on both the federal and state level.

divider-turtleConclusion

As you can see, there are tons of turtles in the state of Virginia. To be more exact, there are 25 turtle types in total, including terrestrial, semi-aquatic, and fully aquatic turtles. Now, you know what kind of turtles to look for whenever you are out and about in Virginia. Happy turtle spotting!


Featured Image Credit: ebartz, Shutterstock

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.