Hatchling Spiny Soft Shell
Age Group: Hatchling
Common Name: Eastern Spiny Softshell
Scientific Name: Apalone spinifera spinifera
Description: Eastern Spiny Softshell hatchlings are 1.2 to 1.6 inches long and has the male’s prominent spots with rings around them. As they age, the females will start to develop a smudged pattern and the males will keep their clean pattern. Their shells are soft, flat and leathery with flexible edges. They have snorkel-like nostrils and long necks that they use to breathe while underwater.
Origin: This species originates from Western New York to Wisconsin down to the Tennessee River and up to the Southern parts of Canada.
Lifespan: Eastern Spiny Softshell Turtles can live up to 50 years
Habitat in captivity: Hatchling Eastern Spiny Softshells are 1-2 inches long and would do well in a 20 gallon aquarium as they require quite a lot of space to move around. These turtles are fantastic swimmers and prefer deep water with a sandy substrate to burrow in. These turtles also like water that is moving causing it to be well aerated as opposed to standing water such as ponds, to replicate this you can either have a hanging filter or an aerator in your tank. Other things your turtle will need to do well in your care are:
- UVB Light – UVB helps a turtle process calcium, without which their shells and bones would be malformed, a Coil Bulb or Mercury Vapor Bulb perfect for this although will require changing every 6 months to a year.
- Basking Light and UVA – UVA lights are required for turtles to moderate their circadian rhythms. UVA light is also produced with a Mercury Vapor bulb. These turtles prefer a wet basking area as opposed to a dry one, or if it is a dry one that it is very easy for them to instantly scurry into the water below. The temperature of this basking area should be in the mid to high 80s.
- Heat – Just as basking temperatures are important, so too are your turtle’s water temperatures. Depending on where you live and what the temperature is in your house, a submersible water heater may be required to raise the temperature to the correct level in the mid 70s.
- Filtration – In this species, water filtration is necessary to filter out any toxins or other harmful elements from your turtle’s water as these turtles are exceptionally delicate as hatchlings.
- Habitat Décor – A sand substrate is essential with these turtles as they spend a majority of their time burrowing through it. Live or artificial plants are also necessary as they will provide the turtle with the security they need to thrive. Other cage decorations can include ornaments and wood.
Diet: The Eastern Spiny Softshell hatchling is very much a carnivore compared to the adult version of itself. Therefore commercial turtle foods made by Zilla or ReptoMin are recommended as they are well balanced and have added supplements to ensure a complete diet. Meat in the form of earthworms or fish can be offered in moderation but be cautious to not overfeed your turtle as it can cause death for reasons yet unknown.
Size at adulthood: The males of this species grow between 5-9 inches, with the larger females growing between 6-18 inches.
Community Turtle: These turtles have a reputation for being quite aggressive with other turtles and their human keepers. It is advised that these turtles be kept separate due to possible aggression towards other turtles and the risk of injury to their delicate bodies.