Eastern mud turtle
Kinosternon subrubrum
ITIS Species Code:   173763         NatureServ Element Code:   ARAAE01050
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

30.3 %
8.3 %
22.7 %
4.2 %
7.2 %
1.5 %
15.5 %
0.9 %
3.1 %
4.7 %
4.7 %
0.2 %
< 0.1 %

58.6 %
% of Dist. on
All Lands

3.3 %
0.9 %
2.8 %
0.5 %
0.8 %
0.2 %
1.7 %
< 0.1 %
0.3 %
0.1 %
0.5 %
< 0.1 %
88.7 %

6.4 %
Uses a variety of aquatic habitats including ponds, lakes, creeks, swamps, freshwater and brackish marshes, ditches, and wet meadows and boggy areas, but avoids large, deep areas of water and fast waters.

They shelter in or among mud and coarse debris within riparian zones; also in recesses of shorelines, among logs in saturated riparian sites, or buried in slightly elevated ground near aquatic sites. During summer drying periods, it may estivate among mud and debris of ephemeral pond depressions rather than move to more permanent waters. The female selects a rather dry spot to lay the eggs. Sandy, loamy soils are preferred but piles of vegetable debris are also used (Ernst and Barbour 1972).


Shallow, slow- or nonflowing fresh or brackish water with soft bottom and abundant aquatic vegetation; also wet meadows. Frequently travels overland. Basically a bottom-dweller. Occupies various aquatic or terrestrial sites when inactive. Eggs are laid in a nest dug in an open area in soft soil not far from water; also in and under vegetable and other debris and in muskrat tunnels (Ernst and Barbour 1972). See Bodie et al. (1996) for information on nest site selection. Hatchlings may overwinter in nest.

In South Carolina, terrestrial nesting forays lasted 2-29 days (mean 9 days); gravid females left water, buried themselves, usually stayed buried until a rainstorm occurred, nested during a rainstorm, buried themselves again after nesting, and later returned to the water, usually when another rainstorm occurred (Burke et al. 1994).

Occupied Landcover Map Units:
Code NameDescription NC Natural Heritage Program Equivalent
3 Tidal Marsh Fresh and brackish tidal marshes, including cord grass, wild rice, sawgrass and needlerush alliances. Brackish Marsh, Interdune pond, Maritime wet grassland
124 Maritime Scrubs and Tidal Shrublands Coastal shrubs including wax-myrtle, swamp rose, alder, yaupon, and greenbriar. Maritime Shrubs, Salt Shrub
372 Interdune Herbaceous Wetlands Dune swales with permanently flooded to intermittently exposed hydrology. Species composition depends on salinity and can include cut grass, spike-rush, mosquito fern, and hornwort. Interdune Pond, Maritime Wet Grasslands
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
121 Maritime Pinelands Loblolly forests and woodlands of the outer coastal plain. Estuarine Fringe Loblolly Pine Forest
17 Maritime Forests and Hammocks Maritime forests and woodlands dominated by live or sand laurel oak. Estuarine Fringe forests dominated by loblolly pine. Coastal Fringe Evergreen Forest, Maritime Deciduous Forest, Maritime Deciduous Forest
126 Interdune Wooded Depression Swamp Includes swamps dominated by sweetbay and swampbay or dogwood dominated forests. Maritime Shrub Swamp, Maritime Swamp Forest
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
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
517 Hemlock Floodplain Forest Alluvial forest with hemlock and/or white pine in mountains and western piedmont. Hydrology is generally temporarily to seasonally flooded. Canada Hemlock Forest
View Entire Landcover Legend
Additional Spatial Constraints:
Exclude all area outside of known range.
Exclude all land greater than 50 meters from an open water feature.
Exclude all water greater than 50 meters from land.
Exclude salt water habitats.
Lovich, J. E., and T. Lamb. 1995. Morphometric similarity between the turtles KINOSTERNON SUBRUBRUM HIPPOCREPIS and K. BAURII. Journal of Herpetology 29:621-624.

Iverson, J. B. 1979. Reproduction and growth of the mud turtle, Kinosternon subrubrum (Reptilia, Testudines, Kinosternidae), in Arkansas. J. Herpetol. 13:105-111.

Iverson, J. B. 1977. Kinosternon subrubrum. Cat. Am. Amph. Rep. 193.1-193.4.

Burke, V. J., J. W. Gibbons, and J. L. Greene. 1994. Prolonged nesting forays by common mud turtles (Kinosternon subrubrum). Am. Midl. Nat 131:190-195.

Gibbons, J. W. 1983. Reproductive characteristics and ecology of the mud turtle, KINOSTERNON SUBRUBRUM (Lacepede).Herpetologica 39:254-271.

Houseal, T. W., and J. L. Carr. 1983. Notes on the repro- duction of KINOSTERNON SUBRUBRUM (Testudines:Kinosternidae)in east Texas. Southwest. Nat. 28:237-248.

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

Frazer, N. B., J. W. Gibbons, and J. L. Greene. 1991. Life history and demography of the common mud turtle KINOSTERNON SUBRUBRUM in South Carolina, USA. Ecology 72:2218-2231.

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

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