Chordates •

Alabama red-bellied cooter

(Pseudemys alabamensis)



The Alabama red-bellied cooter (Pseudemys alabamensis) or Alabama red-bellied turtle, is native to Alabama. It belongs to the turtle family Emydidae, the pond turtles. It is the official reptile of the state of Alabama. The red-belly inhabits the fresh to brackish waters of the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta in Mobile and Baldwin counties. It feeds on aquatic vegetation and can be found sunning itself on logs. Nesting of the red-bellied turtle occurs from May through July. Female turtles lay their eggs on dry land, digging nests in sandy soil, where 4 to 9 eggs are laid. Hatchlings usually emerge during the summer. When the turtles nest in late July, hatchlings may overwinter in the nest and emerge the following spring. A mature female can be 14 inches (360 mm), while a mature male can be 12 inches (300 mm). As of June 2009 the turtle has been seen in the central part of Alabama, in the Elmore County region. This turtle has also been found in south-eastern Mississippi, in Harrison and Jackson counties. In 2007, a 3.4 miles (5.5 km) chain-link fence has been constructed along part of the US 98 causeway (Battleship Parkway) that separates the Mobile-Tensaw delta from Mobile Bay. Hatchling deaths dropped 80% from 2007 to 2008. Pseudemys is a genus of large, herbivorous, freshwater turtles of the eastern United States and adjacent northeast Mexico. They are often referred to as cooters, which stems from kuta, the word for turtle in the Bambara and Malinké languages, brought to America by enslaved people from Africa. The generic name Pseudemys is derived from the Greek words, pseudes meaning false or misleading, and emydos a freshwater turtle, implying a resemblance to, but not included in the genus Emys. The trivial names, or specific epithets, of five of the species are toponyms, named for places where the species were first discovered including, the Florida peninsular (P. peninsularis), the Suwannee River (P. suwanniensis), Alabama (P. alabamensis), Florida (P. floridana), and Texas (P. texana). Two are patronyms, or eponyms, honoring prominent zoologists, George Robert Zug, curator of Amphibians and Reptiles at the Smithsonian, National Museum of Natural History (P. gorzugi), and George Nelson, botanist, zoologist, and Chief Taxidermist at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard (P. nelsoni).

Taxonomic tree:

Kingdom: Animalia
Class: Reptilia
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