How Fast Can A Softshell Turtle Swim?

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Do you know softshell turtle has an amazing speed in both lands and waters? Many of you may know that softshell turtles are excellent swimmers. But do you know how fast a softshell turtle can swim?

Despite having a huge body, the softshell turtles can swim very fast. On land, their average speed is around 3 miles per hour. While swimming, the softshell turtles can speed up to 15 miles per hour.

Do you want to know the science behind a softshell turtle’s rapid swimming? Or how can they run this fast? Well, if yes, then give this article a read.

How Do Softshell Turtles Swim Fast?

Turtles are slow. That is what we have learned from our childhood. This is true for many turtle species, but not for the softshell turtles. This species is one of the fastest moving freshwater turtles.

Though the exact speed is not recorded anywhere, many experts have supported the claim. In the above video, you can see a softshell turtle running fast towards the water. It takes the turtle 4 seconds to totally disappear from human sight. Can you imagine the speed now?

Many researchers claim that a softshell turtle can swim at a speed of 15 miles per hour. If you think about it, this is really fast. You can question how a softshell turtle swims this fast in spite of having a bulky body. What is the science here?

You know that softshell turtles do not have hard shells like most other turtle species. As a result, they had to adapt to the environment in order to avoid predators via great swimming skills. You will be surprised to know that the softshell turtles do not weigh much though they look enormous. This is because their shells have not been calcified much like the hard shell turtles.

Some professionals compare them with stingrays because of the soft shell and speed. The secret to their excellent speed lies in their feet. The strongly webbed feet help the softshell turtles to propel through the water at an excellent speed.

Besides the webbed feet, the flat shell of the softshell turtles also helps them swim fast. The scientists suggest that those flat shells are hydrodynamically efficient for swimming. The height of the shell does not exceed the head. This perfect aerodynamic design lets the softshell turtles glide through water very smoothly.

So, the softshell turtles can swim very fast in the water using the webbed feet and flatten shell.

How Fast Can A Softshell Turtle Run?

The average moving or walking speed of a softshell turtle is around 3 miles per hour. This is a walking pace for an adult human being. When it comes to running, experts claim that the speed is up to 15 miles per hour. A softshell turtle only acquires this speed when it is in danger or frightened.

Many professionals consider the softshell turtle as the fastest turtle on the land. But in water, the sea turtles are the fastest. Now the question is how a softshell turtle manages to run this fast.

Well, the musculature in the softshell turtle’s legs is very strong. The faster the turtle will move the legs, the faster it can run. You know the shell of a softshell turtle is not hard. And so, the weight of a softshell turtle is less than many other turtle species.

So, when it comes to running, these turtles move their muscular legs very fast. As the shell is not hard, they have a lesser weight to carry. Again, the three claws in the feet provide them a really good grip. This is how a softshell turtle runs very fast.

Advantages Of Having The Rapid Speed

Now you know the softshell turtles can run and swim very fast. But does this speed benefit them in any way?

The answer is yes. The soft shell of the softshell turtle makes this species vulnerable to predators. While other turtles use their hard shell for protection or as a shield against any attack, the softshell turtles rely on their speed.

Whenever these turtles get attacked by a predator, they run for life. The softshell turtles can move fast in both water and land. This is a huge advantage indeed.

The rapid speed not only helps the softshell turtles with self-protection but also with hunting. You know that the wild softshell turtles have to live on the small water creatures to survive. These turtles bury their bodies in the mud and wait for the prey.

When a fish or frog passes them, they trap them using their fast moving speed. So, in a sense, the softshell turtles depend on their fast-moving speed for survival.


A softshell turtle can move on the land at an average speed of 3 miles per hour. When it comes to swimming the speed gets way better. Rapid speed is their way to adapt to the wild environment.

Muntaseer Rahman

I have been keeping turtles as a pet for many years now. I’ve fallen in love with these cute pets from the moment I saw them. That’s why I am writing articles to share my turtle keeping knowledge with you.

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