Alabama red-bellied turtle
The elongated rugose carapace (to 33 cm) is highly arched and elevated along the vertebral scutes; its highest point is often anterior to the middle, and it is widest at the middle. Vertebrals are broader than long; the 1st is the narrowest, the 5th expanded. Posterior marginals are serrated. The carapace is olive to black, with red to yellow bars on the pleurals and marginals. The 2nd pleural has a wide, light, centrally located transverse bar, which may be Y-shaped. The plastron has a posterior notch. Its scute formula is: abd > an > pect >< gul >< fem > hum. The plastron is reddish yellow and may show a dark, mottled pattern, which may also occur on the carapace and bridge. The head is moderate in size with a nonprotruding snout and an upper jaw with a prominent medial notch bordered on either side by a toothlike cusp. The skin is olive to black with yellow stripes. Supratemporal and paramedial head stripes are prominent and parallel, but do not join posterior to the orbit. The supratemporals pass forward from the orbit, joining well above and posterior to the nostrils. A sagittal stripe passes anteriorly between the orbits and joins the supratemporal stripes at their junction to form a prefrontal arrow.
Females grow larger and their carapaces are more domed. Males have long, straight foreclaws and long, thick tails, with the vent behind the carapacial rim.
Now restricted to the vicinity of Mobile Bay, Alabama; formerly it may have ranged into the Florida Panhandle as far east as Apalachee Bay (Carr and Crenshaw, 1957).
Fresh to moderately brackish marshes and backwaters with abundant aquatic vegetation are the primary habitats of Pseudemys alabamensis, but it sometimes enters rivers and streams.
Nothing is known of the annual sexual cycles, or the size or age at maturity. Pseudemys alabamensis nests in May and June, and probably each female lays several clutches of 3-9 eggs each year (Meany, 1979; Dobie and Bagley, 1988); however Redmond (in Ernst et al., 1994) reports nests with 16-26 eggs.
Hatchlings are nearly round with keeled, posteriorly serrated carapaces. The carapace is green with a pattern of dark-bordered yellow lines on each scute. Also, each pleural often has a dark-centered yellow ocellus, and there is a black-bordered ocellus over the dorsal and ventral marginal seams. The plastron and bridge are orange, red, or coral with a black seam-following pattern.
This species seems to be primarily herbivorous, consuming many species of aquatic plants. Captives readily eat lettuce, but also take fish.
IUCN Red List Status (1996)
Owing to its restricted range, water pollution, and predation, Pseudemys alabamensis is considered Endangered (B1+2c).