Smooth Softshell Apalone mutica

Description: A large, flat turtle with a layer of skin covering the carapace. This turtle is very unlikely to be confused with any species except the Spiny Softshell. The Smooth Softshell differs from the Spiny in being flatter and more circular, and lacking the "spines" on the front of the carapace. Furthermore, the transverse ridges inside the nostrils are not present in the Smooth Softshell.

Distribution: The Smooth Softshell's distribution in Indiana follow major rivers, including the Wabash, Ohio, and Blue.

Taxonomy: The Midland Smooth Softshell (Apalone mutica mutica) is the only subspecies that occurs in Indiana. The Smooth Softshell belongs to the genus Apalone and is in the family Trionychidae which is represented in Indiana by 2 different species.

Ecology: This species is somewhat less of a generalist than the Spiny Softshell in habits; it is found almost exclusively in large rivers. Here, it spends a large amount of time in sandy areas and can occasionally be seen basking on logs and banks of the rivers. These turtles are generalist carnivores.


Conant, R. and J. T . Collins. 1998. Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Third Edition, Expanded. Houghton Mifflin, New York, New York

Ernst, C. H. and J. E. Lovich. 2009. Turtles of the United States and Canada. Second Edition. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD

Minton, S. A. Jr. 2001. Amphibians and Reptiles of Indiana. Indiana Academy of Science, Indianapolis, IN

Distribution Map
Distribution map of Smooth Softshell (Apalone mutica)