Turtles of the American Southwest

Below is a list of the currently recognized species and subspecies of Turtles and Tortoises that occur in the region we have defined as being the American Southwest.

To help maintain some degree of taxonomic stability and reduce confusion, the managers of SWCHR have elected to take a conservative taxonomic approach when deciding which scientific and common names to utilize in our species listings. Please click here for an explanation of our philosophy regarding taxonomic issues.

The SWCHR Range Maps used in this section were generated using a variety of current sources and are designed to indicate the general range of the species indicated on the maps.

We invite you, our visitors, to submit high quality photographs for consideration to be included in our species accounts. Please include the scientific name of the specimen, your name and the state and county where the specimen was photographed.


Caretta caretta – Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Chelonia mydas – Green Sea Turtle
Eretmochelys imbricata bissa – Pacific Hawksbill Sea turtle
Eretmochelys imbricata imbricata – Atlantic Hawksbill Sea Turtle
Lepidochelys kempii – Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle
Lepidochelys olivacea– Olive Ridley Sea Turtle

CHELYDRIDAE – Snapping Turtles
Chelydra serpentina serpentina – Eastern Snapping Turtle
Macrochelys temminckii – Alligator Snapping Turtle

DERMOCHELYIDAE – Leatherback Sea Turtles
Dermochelys coriacea – Leatherback Sea Turtle

EMYDIDAE – Box and Water Turtles
Actinemys marmorata – Northwestern Pond Turtle
Actinemys pallida – Southwestern Pond Turtle
Chrysemys dorsalis – Southern Painted Turtle
Chrysemys picta bellii – Western Painted Turtle
Deirochelys reticularia miaria – Western Chicken Turtle
Graptemys caglei – Cagle’s Map Turtle
Graptemys ouachitensis  – Ouachita Map Turtle
Graptemys sabinensis – Sabine Map Turtle
Graptemys pseudogeographica kohnii – Mississippi Map Turtle
Graptemys versa – Texas Map Turtle
Malaclemys terrapin littoralis – Texas Diamond-backed Terrapin
Pseudemys concinna concinna – Eastern River Cooter
Pseudemys gorzugi – Rio Grande Cooter
Pseudemys texana – Texas River Cooter
Terrapene carolina triunguis – Three-toed Box Turtle
Terrapene ornata ornata – Ornate Box Turtle
Terrapene ornata luteola – Desert Box Turtle
Trachemys gaigeae gaigeae – Big Bend Slider
Trachemys scripta elegans – Red-eared Slider

KINOSTERNIDAE – Mud and Musk Turtles
Kinosternon arizonense – Arizona Mud Turtle
Kinosternon flavescens – Yellow Mud Turtle
Kinosternon hirtipes murrayi – Mexican Plateau Mud Turtle
Kinosternon sonoriense sonorienese – Sonoran Mud Turtle
Kinosternon sonoriense longifemorale – Sonoyta Mud Turtle
Kinosternon subrubrum hippocrepis – Mississippi Mud Turtle
Sternotherus carinatus – Razor-backed Musk Turtle
Sternotherus odoratus – Eastern Musk Turtle

TESTUDINIDAE – Gopher Tortoises
Gopherus agassizii – Mojave Desert Tortoise
Gopherus berlandieri – Texas Tortoise
Gopherus morafkai – Sonoran Desert Tortoise

TRIONYCHIDAE – Softshell Turtles
Apalone mutica mutica – Midland Softshell Turtle
Apalone spinifera emoryi – Texas Spiny Softshell Turtle
Apalone spinifera guadalupensis
– Guadalupe Spiny Softshell Turtle
Apalone spinifera spinifera – Western Spiny Softshell Turtle
Apalone spinifera pallida – Pallid Spiny Softshell Turtle