Striped mud turtle
Kinosternon baurii
ITIS Species Code:   173765         NatureServ Element Code:   ARAAE01010
NatureServe Global Rank: 
NatureServe State (NC) Rank: 
Federal Status: 
NC State Status: 
Land Unit

US Fish & Wildlife Service
US Forest Service
US National Park Service
US Department of Defense
NC State Parks
NC University System
NC Wildlife Res. Com.
NC Forest Service
NC Div. of Coastal Mgmt.
Local Governments
Non-Governmental Org.
Other Public Lands
Private Lands

GAP Status 1-2
All Protected Lands




% of Dist. on
Prot. Lands

34.8 %
10.4 %
24.7 %
0.5 %
5.7 %
2.1 %
12.0 %
1.2 %
2.7 %
5.4 %
5.4 %
< 0.1 %
0.2 %

58.8 %
% of Dist. on
All Lands

5.1 %
1.5 %
3.6 %
< 0.1 %
0.8 %
0.3 %
1.8 %
0.2 %
0.4 %
< 0.1 %
0.8 %
< 0.1 %
85.3 %

8.6 %
Striped mud turtles inhabit blackwater swamps and rivers, permanent and temporary ponds, small lakes, and ditches. They are generally most abundant in habitats with emergent cypress and tupelo trees, dark waters and organic substrates. Also found in forested floodplain ponds, and wooded streams and lakes where soft substrates are present. They are known to spend much of their time on land (Mitchell 1994), wandering on dry forested lands between aquatic sites and sometimes estivating on land (primarily in the north of range) when water levels are low (Ernst et al. 1972, Iverson 1979, Wygoda 1979).


Cypress swamps, sloughs, ponds, drainage canals, wet meadows, shallow marshes, and adjacent forest areas; wanders on dry land and enters brackish ponds (e.g., in the Florida Keys; Dunson 1981). Often observed on roads and along canal banks (Carr 1940, Duellman and Schwartz 1958). Sometimes digs into decaying vegetation or soil surface. In central Florida, sometimes estivates on land when water levels are low; returns to water after rains raise water levels (Wygoda 1979). May be less aquatic in the north than in southern Florida, where habitats more often include deeper flowing waters and where estivation on land is rare or absent (Ernst et al. 1972, Iverson 1979). However, in the lower Florida Keys, habitats include shallow ponds and excavated mosquito control ditches, and turtles may use terrestrial retreats if the ponds dry or become too saline (Dunson 1992).

Eggs are laid in nests dug in sand or decaying vegetation (Ernst and Barbour 1972, Iverson 1979). Sometimes oviposits in alligator nests. Nesting areas in Florida include turkey oak-longleaf pine sandhills adjacent to swamps; may travel up to several hundred meters to nest (Mushinsky and Wilson 1992). After ovipositing, females often burrow underground a few meters from the nest, and then move back to wetland habitat after the next rain (Wilson, unpubl.).

Occupied Landcover Map Units:
Code NameDescription NC Natural Heritage Program Equivalent
75 Tidal Swamp Forest Swamp tupelo dominated forest with or without black tupelo and/or cypress trees. Restricted to the tidal zones in the coastal plain. May have inclusions of coastal red cedar woodlands. Tidal cypress - gum swamp
380 Coastal Plain Fresh Water Emergent Emergent vegetation in fresh water seepage bogs, ponds and riverbeds of the coastal plain. Includes alliances dominated by sedges, eelgrass, as well as cane found in unforested cane-brakes. Small Depression Pond, Sandhill Seep, Floodplain Pool, Unforested Floodplain Canebrake, Riverscour Prairies, Vernal Pools
173 Coastal Plain Riverbank Shrubs Shrub dominated riverbanks, commonly dominated by willows and/or alders. Sand and Mud Bar
50 Coastal Plain Mixed Bottomland Forests Includes forests dominated by a variety of hardwood species, including sweetgum, cottonwood, red maple. Coastal Plain Bottomland Hardwood (in part), Coastal Plain Levee Forest
49 Coastal Plain Oak Bottomland Forest Bottomland forests dominated by deciduous oak alliances. Oaks represented can include swamp chestnut, cherrybark, willow, and/or overcup oak. Inclusions of loblolly pine temporarily flooded forests occur in patches. Hydrology is temporarily to seasonally flooded. Coastal Plain Bottomland Hardwoods (in part) blackwater subtype, brownwater subtype
158 Coastal Plain Nonriverine Wet Flat Forests Loblolly pine - Atlantic white-cedar - red maple - swamp tupelo saturated forests as well as forests dominated by loblolly, sweetgum, and red maple in non-riverine flats. Non-riverine Wet Hardwood Forest
41 Peatland Atlantic White-Cedar Forest Dense stands of Atlantic white cedar with saturated hydrology. Can include swamp tupelo, red maple, and pond pines with a moderate shrub and herb layer. Peatland Atlantic White-Cedar Forest
15 Seepage and Streamhead Swamps Includes extensive peat flats in the coastal plain, dominated by swamp tupelo, maples, and Atlantic white cedar alliances. In the sandhills includes streamhead pond pine and bay forests alliances. Saturated hydrology. Bay Forest, Small Depression Pocosin, Streamhead Atlantic White Cedar Forest, Streamhead Pocosins
30 Cypress-Gum Floodplain Forests Swamps dominated by black or swamp tupelo with or without Taxodium. Seasonally to semi-permanently flooded hydrology. Cypress-Gum Swamps
78 Pond-Cypress - Gum Swamps, Savannas and Lakeshores Cypress dominated swamps and lakeshores. Can include bays dominated by pond cypress or shorelines of coastal plain lakes with a narrow band of cypress. Non-riverine Swamp Forest, Natural Lakeshores (in part)
385 Oak Bottomland Forest and Swamp Forest The swamp chestnut oak, cherrybark oak, shumard oak and sweetgum alliance is one representative. Other alliances are dominated by water, willow, and overcup oaks. Swamp forests can be dominated by sweetgum, red maple, and black gum being dominant. Loblolly can occur in combination with sweetgum and red maple, or with tulip poplar. Includes saturated and semi- to permanently flooded forests in the mountains. Piedmont/Mountain Bottomland Forest, Piedmont/Mountain Swamp Forest
87 Pocosin Woodlands and Shrublands Includes pond pine woodland, low pocosin and high pocosin shrub dominated areas. Canebrakes and bay forests may be present. Pond Pine Woodlands, Peatland Canebrake, Small Depression Pocosin
67 Wet Longleaf or Slash Pine Savanna Wet flatwoods and pine savannas, typically dominated by longleaf pines, but slash or pond pines may be the dominant pines. Wet Pine Flatwoods
97 Mesic Longleaf Pine Longleaf pine woodlands without a major scrub oak component. Slash or loblolly pines may be present as well. Mesic Pine Flatwoods
238 Piedmont/Mountain Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Seasonally to permanently flooded areas with aquatic vegetation. Waterlily, pondweed, hydrilla smartweed are a few of the species that can occur. Piedmont/Mountain Semipermanent Impoundment (in part)
239 Piedmont/Mountain Emergent Vegetation Emergent vegetation of all wetland hydrologies. Sites would commonly support species such as tussock sedge, rushs, and cattail alliances. Rocky Bar and Shore (in part)
267 Riverbank Shrublands Riverside shrubs with temporarily flooded hydrologies. Found in the both the Mountains and Piedmont. Containing dominants such as smooth alder and a Carolina or black willows. Sand and Mud Bar
269 Floodplain Wet Shrublands Saturated shrublands of the Piedmont, includes buttonbush, swamp-loosestrife, decodon and alders. Piedmont/mountain Semipermanent Impoundment
384 Piedmont/Mountain Mixed Bottomland Hardwood Forests Includes temporarily to seasonally forests dominated by hardwood species. Hardwoods include sweetgum, red maple, sycamore which co-occur in a mosaic of bottomland and levee positions. Includes alluvial hardwood forests in the mountains. Hemlock and white pine may occur as inclusions, but are generally mapped separately. Piedmont/Mountain Alluvial Forest, Piedmont/Mountain Levee Forest
8 Open water Open water without aquatic vegetation. No equivalent
View Entire Landcover Legend
Additional Spatial Constraints:
Exclude all area outside of known range.
Exclude all land greater than 200 meters from an open water feature.
Exclude all water greater than 200 meters from land.
Exclude salt water habitats.
Carr, A. F., Jr. 1940. A contribution to the herpetology of Florida. Univ. Florida Biol. Sci. Ser. 3:1.118.

Ernst, C.H. 1974. KINOSTERNON BAURII. Cat. Amer. Amphib. Rept. 161.1-161.2.

Sachsse, W. 1977. Normale und pathologische phanomene bei zuchtversuchen mit schildkroten, hier anhand von KINOSTERNON BAURII (Reptilia, Testudines, Kinosternidae). Salamandra 13:22-35.

Iverson, J. B. 1978. Variation in striped mud turtles, KINOSTERNON BAURII (Reptilia, Testudines, Kinosternidae). J. Herpetol. 12:135-142.

Wygoda, M. L. 1979. Terrestrial activity of striped mud turtles, Kinosternon baurii (Reptilia, Testudines, Kinosternidae) in west-central Florida. J. Herpetol. 13:469-480.

Kushlan, J. A., and M. S. Kushlan. 1980. Everglades alligator nests:nesting sites for marsh reptiles. Copeia 1980:930-932.

Dunson, W. A. 1981. Behavioral osmoregulation in the key mud turtle, KINOSTERNON B. BAURII. J. Herpetol. 15:163-173.

Meshaka, W. E. 1988. Reproductive characteristics of south Florida STERNOTHERUS ODORATUS and KINOSTERNON BAURII (Testudines:Kinosternidae). Proc. Arkansas Acad. Sci. 42:11. [errata corrected in 1990, vol. 44:136].

Dunson, W. A. 1992. Striped mud turtle, Lower Keys population. Pages 105-110 in P. E. Moler, editor. Rare and endangered biota of Florida. Vol. III. Amphibians and reptiles. Univ. Press of Florida, Gainesville. 291 pp.

Lovich, J. E., and T. Lamb. 1995. Morphometric similarity between the turtles KINOSTERNON SUBRUBRUM HIPPOCREPIS and K. BAURII. Journal of Herpetology 29:621-624.


Conant, R. and J. T. Collins. 1991. A field guide to reptiles and amphibians:eastern and central North America. Third edition. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Massachusetts. 450 pp.

Lardie, R. L. 1975. Observations on reproduction in KINOSTERNON. J. Herpetol. 9:257-260.

Iverson, J. B. 1979. The female reproductive cycle in North Florida KINOSTERNON SUBRUBRUM (Reptilia, Testudines, Kinosternidae). Brimleyana 1(1):37-46.

Mushinsky, H. R., and D. S. Wilson. 1992. Seasonal occurrence of KINOSTERNON BAURII on a sandhill in central Florida. J. Herpetol. 26:207-209.

Etchberger, C. R. 1991. Ph.D. thesis. Indiana Univ. 190 pp.

Ernst, C. H., R. W. Barbour, and J. E. Lovich. 1994. Turtles of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C. xxxviii + 578 pp.

Mitchell, J. C. 1994. The reptiles of Virginia. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Iverson, J. B. 1977. Reproduction in freshwater and terrestrial turtles of north Florida. Herpetologica 32:203-212.

Neill, W. T., and E. R. Allen. 1954. Algae on turtles:some additional considerations. Ecology 35:581-584.

Einem, G. E. 1956. Certain aspects of the natural history of the mud turtle, KINOSTERNON BAURII. Copeia 1956:186-188.

Duellman, W. E., and A. Schwartz. 1958. Amphibians and reptiles of southern Florida. Florida State Mus. Bull. Biol. Sci. 3:181-324.

Lamb, T. 1983. The Striped Mud Turtle (Kinosternon bauri) in South Carolina, A Confirmation Through Multivariate Character Analysis. Herpetologica 39:383-390.

Lamb, T., and J. Lovich. 1990. Morphometric validation of the striped mud turtle (KINOSTERNON BAURII) in the Carolinas and Virginia. Copeia 1990:613-618.

Ernst, C. H., and R. W. Barbour. 1972. Turtles of the United States. Univ. Press of Kentucky, Lexington. x + 347 pp.

Behler, J. L., and F. W. King. 1979. The Audubon Society field guide to North American reptiles and amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 719 pp.

Ewert, M. A. 1985. Embryology of turtles. Pages 76-267 in C. Gans, F. Billett, and P. F. A. Maderson, editors. Biology of the Reptilia. Vol. 14. John Wiley and Sons, New York.

Ashton, R. E., Jr., and P. S. Ashton. 1985. Handbook of reptiles and amphibians of Florida. Part two. Lizards, turtles & crocodilians. Windward Pub., Inc., Miami. 191 pp.

Ernst, C. H., and R. W. Barbour. 1989. Turtles of the world. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C. xii + 313 pp.

Lazell, J. D., Jr. 1989. Wildlife of the Florida Keys:a Natural History. Island Press, Washington, D.C.

Ewert, M. A. 1991. Cold torpor, diapause, delayed hatching and estivation in reptiles and birds. Pages 173-191 in D. C. Demming and M. W. J. Ferguson, editors. Egg incubation:its effects on embryonic development in birds and reptiles. Cambridge Univ. Pres

Nicol, R. 1970. Striped mud turtle has tiny offspring. Tortuga Gazette 6(2):4.

Iverson, J. B. 1991. Phylogenetic hypotheses for the evolution of modern kinosternine turtles. Herpetological Monographs 5:1-27.

Ernst, C. H., R. W. Barbour, and J. R. Butler. 1972. Habitat preferences of two Florida turtles, genus KINOSTERNON. Trans. Kentucky Acad. Sci. 33:41-42.

10 March 2005
This data was compiled and/or developed by the North Carolina GAP Analysis Project.

For more information please contact them at:
NC-GAP Analysis Project
Dept. of Zoology, NCSU
Campus Box 7617
Raleigh, NC 27695-7617
(919) 513-2853