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Canadian Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Network - Réseau Canadien de 
Conservation des Amphibiens et des Reptiles

Key to Families of Turtles

Choose the description that best fits the animal of interest. If none fit go back to step one.

  • A.     Large, massive, freshwater turtle, head is large with somewhat hooked upper jaw, carapace has three rows of low knobs and is serrated at the rear, plastron greatly reduced forming a cross-shape, tail as long or longer than carapace with saw-tooth keels.
  • Chelydridae (Les tortues hargneuses)
    one species in Canada: Chelydra serpentina serpentina (Tortue serpentine)
  • B.     Sea turtle, can grow to 1-2 m in length, carapace hard-shelled, front legs modified into flippers.
  • Cheloniidae (Les tortues marine)
  • C.     Sea turtle, can grow to 2 m in length, carapace covered with ridged leathery skin, front legs modified into flippers.
  • Dermochelyidae (Les Tortues Luths Marines)
    one species in the world: Dermochelys coriacea (Tortue luth)
  • D.     Freshwater turtle, the spotted carapace is round, flat and covered with leathery skin, snout is tubular.
  • Trionychidae (Les Tortues-molles)
    one species in Canada: Apalone spinifera spinifera (Tortue-molle à épines)
  • E.     Small freshwater turtle always less than 15 cm in length, light stripe above and below the eye, carapace highly domed and narrow, plastron reduced in size, may emit strong musky odour when disturbed, juveniles have keeled carapace but this is lost with maturity.
  • Kinosternidae (Les Tortues Musquées)
    one species in Canada: Sternotherus odoratus (Tortue musquée)
  • F.     Freshwater turtle, head is relatively small and upper jaw not hooked, carapace not leathery and generally forms a low arch, but may be domed, some species have a vertebral keel, plastron is large.
  • Emydidae (Les Tortues des Étangs et des Marais)