We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Chicken Turtle?

By Debra Durkee
Updated Mar 05, 2024
Our promise to you
AllThingsNature is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At AllThingsNature, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The chicken turtle is a fairly rare type of turtle native to the Southeastern United States. There are three types of these turtles: the Western, the Eastern, and the Florida. All have long necks and distinctive stripes on their rear legs.

The native range of the Eastern and Western varieties is defined by the Mississippi River; as the names suggest, the Eastern is found east of the Mississippi, and the Western to the west. The Florida chicken turtle is the most localized of the three species, and is found only in southern Florida. The chicken turtle thrives in warmer environments, usually where the water is around 75°F (about 23°C), and it can bask on sunny, warm rocks where the temperature is upward of 85°F (about 29°C). As it prefers these warm temperatures, it is more commonly found in the southern part of the country.

The turtle has a typically drab green or brown shell patterned with yellow and a matching stripe down each of the front legs. Among the most distinctive of the chicken turtle's markings is the set of vertical stripes along the rear legs and tail. The yellow on the shell and the stripes are the widest on the Florida species, but prominent on all. The female is typically larger than the male, and most have a shell between 4 and 6 inches (about 10 to 15 cm) in length, although some females in captivity can easily reach 12 inches (30 cm).

Easily kept as a pet, the chicken turtle can be kept quite happy on insects and vegetables similar to those that wild turtles feed on. These turtles do well when kept in groups, and require fresh water and stones to sun themselves on; temperatures of water and air should be monitored to reflect those in their natural environments. Pairs of chicken turtles will usually breed in captivity, laying up to 10 eggs in a season. Very alert, this turtle is generally well aware of things going on outside of the enclosure, and will react to its owners. Once accustomed to the surroundings and the voice of the owner, the chicken turtle can become a very tame, easy to handle pet.

In the wild, the turtle can commonly be found in various bodies of fresh water, where it tolerates anything from still ponds and lakes to fast-moving rivers. A social turtle, it can often be found living in groups. If the temperature drops below levels that the chicken turtle finds acceptable, it will hibernate until warm temperatures return.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Chicken Turtle and where can it be found?

A Chicken Turtle is a species of turtle native to the southeastern United States, particularly found in freshwater habitats like ponds, marshes, and slow-moving streams. They are distinguished by their long, striped necks and a shell pattern that resembles a chicken's comb, hence the name. Chicken Turtles are semi-aquatic and can often be spotted basking on logs or vegetation.

Why is it called a Chicken Turtle?

The Chicken Turtle earned its name due to the taste of its meat, which is said to be reminiscent of chicken. This comparison dates back to when turtles were more commonly consumed as food. The name also reflects the unique patterning on their shells, which bears similarity to the comb of a chicken.

What do Chicken Turtles eat?

Chicken Turtles are omnivorous, with a diet that includes a variety of aquatic plants, insects, fish, and amphibians. Their foraging strategy involves both active pursuit and ambush, making them versatile feeders. According to studies, their diet shifts with age, with juveniles consuming more animal matter and adults incorporating more vegetation.

How do Chicken Turtles reproduce?

Chicken Turtles have a unique reproductive cycle compared to other turtles. They are known for delayed nesting, which occurs in late winter to early spring. Females lay eggs in nests dug on land, and the incubation period can vary. Interestingly, the sex of the hatchlings is determined by the temperature of the nest during critical periods of egg development.

Are Chicken Turtles endangered?

Chicken Turtles are not currently listed as endangered, but they face threats from habitat destruction, road mortality, and pollution. Conservation efforts are important to maintain their populations, as they are considered a species of least concern by the IUCN Red List, but local populations may be at risk due to environmental pressures and human activities.

How can one identify a Chicken Turtle in the wild?

To identify a Chicken Turtle, look for a medium-sized turtle with a distinctive long, striped neck and a shell that features a pattern similar to a chicken's comb. Their carapace is typically olive to dark brown with yellow lines, and their plastron (underside) is yellow with dark blotches. They are often seen basking or foraging in shallow waters.

AllThingsNature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

AllThingsNature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

AllThingsNature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.