Field Guide to Maryland's Turtles (Order Testudines)
Northern Red-bellied Cooter
Photo of Northern Red-bellied Cooter courtesy of John White.
10 - 12½ inches. Record - 15¾ inches.
Photo of Habitat for Northern Red-bellied Cooter
courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers.
Usually associated with deep-water areas of coastal plain rivers and associated floodplain marshes, and ponds. Typically found in areas with a soft silt bottom, lots of aquatic vegetation and numerous basking sites, such as logs and debris. Can also be found in brackish water, near river mouths.
How to Find
Look for basking turtles from March to November along the shorelines of large Eastern Shore rivers. This species is shy and difficult to approach, so it is best to view from afar with binoculars.
Canoe or kayak in quietly for a close-up view.
Distribution in Maryland
Primarily a Coastal Plain species but can be found as far west as Allegany County.
- Discover Maryland's Herps
- Maryland Herp History
- Maryland Herp Checklist
- Survey Techniques, Collecting Ethics, Safety and the Law
- Problems with Buying Frogs and Tadpoles for Wild Release
- Technical Guide: A Key to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Maryland - 86.3 MB pdf file
- Maryland Amphibian and Reptile Atlas (MARA) Project
- Natural Heritage Program
- Wildlife & Heritage Home
"A Joint Project of the Natural History Society of Maryland, Inc. and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources"
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The Maryland Herpetology Field Guide is a cooperative effort of the MD Natural Heritage Program and the MD Biological Stream Survey within the Department of Natural Resources and their partners. We wish to thank all who contributed field records, text, and photographs, as well as support throughout its development.