Searching for Spiny SoftshellsThe eastern spiny softshell turtle Apalone spinifera spinifera is a Threatened Species at Risk historically found at Royal Botanical Gardens. For decades the RBG population has been reduced to one or two individuals seen every few years. The last confirmed sighting was in 2003.
This summer RBG made signs asking visitors to submit photographs and information if they have seen this turtle. Only a few days later we got a response! It was quickly sent to the Spiny Softshell Recovery Team, only to find that it was not our native spiny softshell.
The submitted photo was of an exotic softshell that likely made its way here through the pet trade. This turtle, narrowed down to one of two types of softshells native to the Texas area, has low chances of making it through the winter. Releasing exotic pets into the wild can also introduce diseases to naturally occurring populations and competition for food and space.
It was a false alarm, but there is still hope.
If you see a softshell turtle at RBG please submit photos and information to:
Kathryn Harrison, Species at Risk Biologist
[hopefully any sightings will not be as road kill on Cootes Drive...]