Nova Scotia Herpetofaunal Atlas
Identifying turtles: undersides

From left to right, top to bottom: Common Snapping Turtle plastron, Wood Turtle plastron, Painted Turtle plastron, and Blanding' Turtle plastron
Photos: Harold Stewart, John Gilhen and Ron Merrick (Blanding's Turtle)

Our four species of native turtle can be easily identified by looking at the shell on the belly, called the plastron. The plastron on a Snapping turtle is much reduced and is shaped like a T. Wood turtles have small dark patches at the outer edges of their shell. Painted turtles have no dark patches on their plastron and you can also see the beautiful red pattern on the underside of their carapace (top shell). Blanding's turtles have extensive dark patches on the bottom of their shell.

Turtles can also be sexed by looking at the plastron. Male plastrons are concave whereas female plastrons are flat.

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