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Arizona mud turtle facts for kids

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Arizona mud turtle
Kinosternon arizonense.jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
  • Kinosternon arizonense Gilmore, 1922
  • Kinosternon flavescens stejnegeri Hartweg, 1938
  • Kinosternon arizonenese Iverson, 1978 (ex errore)
  • Kinosternon flavescens arizonense Iverson, 1979

The Arizona mud turtle (Kinosternon stejnegeri) is a species of mud turtle in the family Kinosternidae. It is found in Arizona (United States) and Sonora (Mexico). It is considered a semi-aquatic turtle and is found in Desert of Arizona (United States) and Sonora (Mexico). It lives in impermanent puddle, and they avoid permanent rivers and lakes.

The male adult Arizona mud turtle is 103.0- 181.3 mm (4-7.5 in) long, and female Arizona mud turtle is slightly smaller than the male. The turtle's top shell is brown and olive brown with a dome shaped appearance. The skin is brown, dark silver on top, and light yellow on bottom of the head. There are no specific pattern or stripes on extremities.

The turtle's diet includes anurans, tadpoles, invertebrates and carrion. Arizona mud turtle is only active during the day. It is active at night during summer in search of food. During winter Arizona mud turtle will hibernates under the temporary puddle and pond.

The growth cycle begins in July and early August when the turtle starts laying eggs. Except habitat loss, Arizona mud turtle often faces decrease in population due to agriculture activity. Fortunately, due to lack of water in the desert agriculture activity is minimized.


The male adult Arizona mud turtle is 103.0- 181.3 mm (4-7.5 in) long, and female Arizona mud turtle is 95.5-167.3mm (3.5-6.5 on) long. The turtle's body varies in color. The carapace (upper portion of the shell) is dome shaped and tends to be brown, olive or a yellow-brown in color. The carapace also lacks keels. The marginal shields, which can be described as the rim around the shell is yellow. In addition, the lower portion of the shell, also known as the plastron, is yellow as well. The superior of the head is grey in color, and the inferior and the sides are cream and light yellow. One thing that separates them from other species of turtles is that the first vertebral scute and second marginal shield do not connect.

Habitat and behavior

Arizona mud turtles prefer temporary ponds and puddle because they will have a secured food source. The Arizona mud turtle's activity occurs during the day. It is often found near the temporary pond to conserve heat and energy from sunlight. It also is active at night but specifically in July and August in monsoon season. Because it is warm during this period, they tend to spend most of their time in the water, hence why they are known as semi aquatic. During the winter months, they hibernate in a burrow. When drought occurs, Arizona mud turtle can remain dormant underground for maximum of two years.


Living in the lowland area, the Arizona mud turtle usually lives between the elevation of 200-800m. The Arizona mud turtle can be located in the Lower Colorado River Sonoran Desert scrub, Arizona Upland Sonoran Desert scrub, and Semidesert Grassland communities.


Their diet consists of anurans, dytiscid, toads, tadpoles, fish, invertebrates, hydrophilid and carrion.

Life cycle

The female Arizona mud turtle lays three to seven eggs and mates primarily in July till early August. Arizona mud turtle does not have a special nesting habits, and it usually hatch and bury its eggs close to the food sources. Hatchlings are usually 25–28 mm carapace length and have life span from 6 to 10 years age.

Major threats

The species is considered threatened, because there has been ranching, agriculture and flood control taking place in the Sonoran Desert. Establishing themselves in wetlands also exposes them to climate and habitat degradation. An adult Arizona mud turtle usually will survive these conditions, however. Road mortality is also likely to affect this species. On the positive side, the Arizona mud turtle adapts and benefits from pond reconstruction performed by humans.

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