How Big Do Softshell Turtles Get?

How Big Do Softshell Turtles Get

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you are looking for an extraordinary turtle to raise as a pet, go for the softshell turtles. But before buying or adopting the species, don’t you think you need to learn the basics about them? For example, how big the softshell turtles get or their lifestyle. In this article, I will share information regarding the pet’s size.

The average carapace length of an adult female softshell turtle can be between 7 to 25 inches or 18 to 64 centimeters. On the other hand, an adult male softshell turtle grows between 5 to 12 inches or 13 to 31 centimeters. The length can vary depending on the species or subspecies of the softshell turtle.

Besides the size of different softshell turtle subspecies, I will also discuss their growth factors. If you are planning to get a softshell turtle, give this article a quick read.

How Big Does A Softshell Turtle Get?

You already know the adult female softshell turtle grows bigger than the male one. Also, the average size range of the pet can vary from its subspecies to subspecies. Let’s take a look at the below chart indicating the size range of softshell turtles according to their subfamily.

Size Of Different Softshell Turtle Subspecies

Softshell turtle subspeciesSize of an adult male (Average)Size of an adult female (Average)
Spiny softshell turtle
Eastern spiny softshell turtle
Western spiny softshell turtle
Texas spiny softshell turtle
Gulf coast spiny softshell turtle
Black spiny softshell turtle
Pallid spiny softshell turtle Guadalupe softshell turtle
5 to 9.5 inches (12.7 to 24 centimeters)6.5 to 18 inches (17 to 46 centimeters)
Florida softshell turtle6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimeters)8 to 25 inches (20 to 61 centimeters)
Smooth softshell turtle5 to 11 inches (12.7 to 28 centimeters)6.5 to 14 inches (16.5 to 36 centimeters)
Chinese softshell turtle6 to 11 inches (15 to 28 centimeters)8 to 13 inches (20 to 33 centimeters)
Asiatic softshell turtle27.6 to 31.5 (70 to 80 centimeters)27.6 to 31.5 (70 to 80 centimeters)
Malayan softshell turtle10 inches or 25 centimeters13.7 inches or 35 centimeters
Yangtze giant softshell turtle28 to 39 inches (71 to 99 centimeters)28 to 39 inches (71 to 99 centimeters)
Asian giant softshell turtle27.5 to 39 inches (70 to 100 centimeters)27.5 to 39 inches (70 to 100 centimeters)
Indian softshell turtle37 inches or 94 centimeters37 inches or 94 centimeters
Black softshell turtle35.5 inches or 90 centimeters35.5 inches or 90 centimeters
African softshell turtle33.5 to 37.5 (85 to 95 centimeters)33.5 to 37.5 (85 to 95 centimeters)
Leith’s softshell turtle 28 to 39 inches (72 to 100 centimeters)28 to 39 inches (72 to 100 centimeters)
Eupharaes softshell turtle26 inches or 67 centimeters26 inches or 67 centimeters

Growth Factors Of Shotshell Turtle

From the chart given above, you already know that the softshell turtles exhibit extreme sex dimorphism. The female softshell turtles are bigger than the male ones. Besides gender, some other factors can affect a softshell turtle’s normal growth. Such as:

  1. Genetics
  2. Diet
  3. Habitat
  4. Activity period
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Depending on the subspecies, some softshell turtles are much bigger than others. This is because of the turtles’ genetics. Sometimes a turtle grows bigger or smaller than usual due to heredity.


Diet plays a significant role in the growth of your pet softshell turtle. Like us humans, the turtle’s body development also depends on the nutrition it is getting from the food. If you do not provide the turtle with enough minerals and vitamins, the softshell turtle’s growth can be hampered. On the other hand, if you give it an exact amount of nutrients, the turtle will grow at its fullest.

Here is a food list that you can offer to the softshell turtle:

  1. Insect
  2. Amphibian egg
  3. Fish
  4. Pellets
  5. Crickets
  6. Crayfish
  7. Earthworm
  8. Bloodworm
  9. Small vegetation

Sprinkle vitamin D3 and calcium supplements on each meal.


Yes, the habitat of a softshell turtle can affect its growth. For example, the pet will face trouble adapting in the habitat if,

  1. The tank water is not hygienic
  2. The temperature range is not suitable
  3. The humidity level of the habitat is too dry or wet
  4. There is not proper basking or land area

In some cases, the pet softshell falls sick due to these mismanagements. And the illness directly or indirectly can hamper its growth.

Activity period

By the activity period, I am indicating the recreational and dormancy time. Both the periods are important in the softshell turtle’s carapace growth. How?

Well, if you do not provide the softshell turtle enough land and water area to move freshly, it will stress the turtle. The recreational activities help the pet to maintain its ideal growth rate and stay healthy.

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On the other hand, if you put a baby softshell turtle for hibernation, the pet will not get a full growth. Again, if the hibernation process is not correct, it can hamper the turtle’s normal growth.

Pet Turtle Lifespan & Size Chart

pet turtle lifespan and size

If you want to get a printable version of this amazing chart, click here!

Softshell Turtle Growth Rate In Captivity

There is a slight difference in the growth rate of a wild and captive softshell turtle. The wild softshell hatchlings or juveniles have rapid growth. But as their carapace size increases, the growth rate becomes slower, especially in the male softshell turtles. In most cases, the exact growth rate is immeasurable for wild turtles.

According to a study, the male softshell turtles get their mature size at the average age of 4 to 5 years. On the other hand, female softshells become mature at the age of around 12 to 13.

In captivity, the growth rate is much slower. Even though you make all the necessary arrangements inside the habitat, the pets may not get the full growth.

Softshell Turtle Stops Growing-Why?

I have said earlier that the softshell turtles will stop growing or slow down the growth rate once they reach maturity. But what if your turtle is not mature and has stopped growing? What to do then?

First of all, determine the pet’s age and be sure that it has not stopped growing because of it. Then check its diet list. In most cases, the pet turtle stops growing because of poor diet management.

Softshell turtles are mostly carnivorous. You can offer them feeder fish, minnows, worms, pellets sprinkled with vitamin and calcium supplements. If you are confused about how much to feed the turtle, follow the 10 minutes feeding rule.

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If you are confident that feeding is not the problem, then check the habitat temperature and humidity. The ideal temperature for softshell turtles is 74 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. In case you can not determine the problem, consult with a vet immediately. In some cases, the growth rate can be hampered due to the severe illness of the softshell turtle.

How To Ensure A Healthy Growth Of A Softshell Turtle?

  1. Provide the turtle with a balanced diet.
  2. Feed the turtle enough food once a day when it is young. Then go for the thrice a week diet routine when the pet becomes an adult.
  3. Ensure the humidity and temperature of the habitat are suitable for the softshell turtle.
  4. As the softshell turtles are an aquatic species, the water of the tank must be clean. Install a water filter to regulate the pH and chlorine levels. Unhygienic water can make the pet sick.
  5. If you observe any abnormalities in your pet, consult with a vet immediately.

Can You Determine A Softshell Turtle’s Gender By Its Size?

You must have noticed that softshell turtles exhibit sex dimorphism. It means there are distinct characteristics by which you can determine the turtle’s gender. The female softshell turtles are larger than the male ones.

So, if you know your species and you have multiple turtles, then you can determine the gender easily by measuring the size. In most softshell subspecies, the male ones are ⅔ of the length of the female ones.

Many people, especially the newbies, get confused while measuring the turtle’s size. You do not need to include the size of the pet’s head or tell. We generally count the length of the turtle’s carapace as its size.


It is very important to know how big your pet softshell turtle can get. You can decide the habitat size or compare it with other species. In this article, I have discussed the size chart of different softshell turtle subspecies and information regarding the growth. I hope you guys will find the article helpful.

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About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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