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Eastern Spiny Softshell

Apalone spinifera spinifera


The carapace is uniquely flat, oval, and leathery with no scutes. Color is olive to light yellowish brown or gray with a tan, narrow outer margin enclosing a black stripe. Dark brown or black rings interspersed with small black spots on carapace top. Adult females have an indefinite or blotched pattern. A group of blunt, soft spines at the front edge of the carapace. Head is distinct with a long and narrow and pointed (torrent-like) snout. Head is olive to light brown; yellow strip bordered with black from tip of snout through eye onto neck. Limbs are olive to light brown with black or dark grey. Underside is pale gray to white.



Carapace 5 - 17 inches



Similar Species

Smooth softshell


Crayfish and insects make the bulk of the diet. Fish, amphibians, worms, and mollusks are also eaten. Some plant material is consumed as well.


Rivers, creeks, lakes, ponds, gravel pits with sandy or muddy bottoms.


A strong, rapid swimmer, spending much of its time buried in mud or sand. While buried, the long neck extends upward to the surface, allowing only the snout and eyes to break the surface for air. This species is highly aquatic but will bask on logs or river banks.

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Eastern Spiny Softshell

Eastern Spiny Softshell

Eastern Spiny Softshell

Apalone spinifera spinifera

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