Where Do Different Turtles Live? [Map + Location]

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

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As I always say, a little background research on the turtle species before welcoming them home is necessary. For example, the native regions of the pets or their preferred habitats. It gives you an idea of how to build a habitat for them. 

Usually, all the aquatic and semi-aquatic turtles live in water sources like ponds, rivers, lakes, streams, marshes, etc. Unlike them, box turtles inhabit the wetlands beside the water sources. On the contrary, sea turtles can not survive in freshwater, but only in salty oceans. 

Don’t you want to know the geographical ranges of these turtle species? Keep reading to explore more on the habitat choices of these turtles. 

26 Different Turtle Species With Their Native Locations

Knowing the native regions of your pet turtles has a huge advantage. Say, you live in Texas. So, adopting a turtle endemic to this area is always better. This way, you can easily control the pet’s habitat environment and offer it a nature-like vibe. 

Let’s explore the homes of different turtle species. 

1. Pond Sliders

There are mainly 3 types of pond sliders. Such as red eared slider, yellow bellied slider, and Cumberland slider. Some other subspecies of the pond sliders are also found in different geographical locations.

2. Red Eared Sliders 

The red eared sliders are native to the Central and Southern USA. Their habitats cover Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Colorado, and Texas, extending to the Gulf of Mexico.

Also, the range stretches to West Virginia and Eastern New Mexico. These red eared sliders have an increased population in Canada too. 

Generally, rivers, streams, ponds, lakes, swamps, and marshes are suitable homes for the red eared sliders in the wild.

Get a complete care sheet for the red eared sliders from here

3. Yellow Bellied Slider

The yellow bellied turtles population is concentrated in the southeastern part of the United States. You will find this species in the following states,

  • Southward portions of Virginia 
  • Carolina coastal plains
  • Northern Florida and 
  • Eastern Alabama 

Yellow bellied sliders are also seen in parts of Columbia. 

The yellow bellied turtles are freshwater creatures and live in slow-moving streams. The habitats include swamps, floodplains, bays, sinkholes, sloughs, oxbows, lakes, ponds, rivers, and marshes.

Go through the fool-proof guide to raising yellow bellied turtles from this write-up.

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4. Cumberland Sliders

Unlike red eared sliders and yellow bellied turtles, Cumberland sliders are only found in 2 states,

  • Eastern Northeastern Tennessee 
  • Southeastern Virginia 

Nowadays, the Cumberland sliders are also seen in the Mississippi River, Alabama, Georgia, and Illinois. These turtles will thrive in any muddy area with low vegetation.

5. D’Orbigny’s Sliders

The D’Orbigny’s sliders are not endemic to the USA. Instead, the subspecies come from,

  • Southern Brazil (Rio Grande Do Sul)
  • Northeastern Argentina 
  • Uruguay 

Any swamp, marsh, lake, or stream can be a potential habitat for these turtles.

6. Painted Turtles

The painted turtles primarily occupy North America. Besides, their homes stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from southern Canada to northern Mexico.

4 subspecies that belong to the painted turtle species are,

  • Western painted turtles
  • Eastern painted turtle 
  • Southern painted turtle 
  • Midland painted turtle 

Though the native places vary among the subspecies, the habitat choice is more or less the same. Generally, these turtles prefer ponds, lakes, wetlands, creeks, and slow-moving streams. 

7. Western Painted Turtles

The Western painted turtles are found mainly in the Southern part of Eastern Canada and the western parts of the USA. States with western painted turtle populations are,

  • Colorado 
  • Oregon
  • Thompson 
  • British Columbia 
  • Montana 
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota 
  • Minnesota 
  • Wisconsin 
  • Illinois 
  • Iowa 
  • Kansas 
  • Nebraska 
  • Oklahoma 

8. Eastern Painted Turtles 

All the native places for the eastern painted turtle are in southeastern Canada and the east of the USA. From Georgia to Nava Scotia, eastern painted turtles are the most popular turtle species here. The species inhabit the following states,

  • Alabama 
  • Georgia 
  • South Carolina
  • North Carolina 
  • Maryland 
  • Delaware 
  • New Jersy 
  • West Virginia 
  • Pennsylvania
  • Connecticut 
  • Rhode Island 
  • Massachusetts 
  • New York 
  • Nava Scotia 

9. Southern Painted Turtle

Unlike the above 2 subspecies, the southern painted turtles’ population is not widely spread. The turtles are mainly seen in the following 4 states in the southern USA, 

  • Tennessee 
  • Arkansas 
  • Louisiana 
  • Alabama 

10. Midland Painted Turtles

The midland painted turtles are native to both Canada and USA. In the USA, the species is vastly found in the below areas,

  • Tennessee 
  • Kentucky 
  • West Virginia 
  • Ohio 
  • Indiana 
  • Illinois 
  • Michigan 
  • New York 
  • Pennslyvania

Explore more on painted turtles by clicking here

11. Pond Turtles 

You will find several subspecies under the pond turtle category. They are divided based on their native places and appearances.

Regardless of the origin, the habitat requirements of all pond turtles are the same. The species live in ponds, sandy or muddy-bottomed canals, marshes, creeks, small lakes, reservoirs, and irrigation ditches. 

The native range of different pond turtle subspecies is discussed below, 

Pond Turtle Subspecies Native Locations
Western Pond TurtlesFrom Baja California, Mexico to Washington and British Columbia, including western Oregon 
Yellow Pond Turtles Eastern Asian areas like Ryukyu Island, central Vietnam, Taiwan, Hainan, coastal areas of south and central China, etc.
Red Necked Pond Turtles Northern Vietnam, Hainan, and Chinese provinces, such as Guangxi and Guangdong.
Giant Asian Pond Turtles In parts of Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, and throughout Vietnam and Cambodia 
Chinese Pond TurtlesChina, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and Hongkong 
Japanese Pond TurtlesJapan and its Islands 
European Pond TurtlesWestern Asia, Northwestern Africa, and South and Central Europe 
Spanish Pond TurtlesWestern mainland Mediterranean Basin, and from southern France to northwestern countries, for example, Libya, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia 
Black Pond TurtlesBangladesh, Northeastern India (Asam), Pakistan, and Sri Lanka  

12. Black Marsh Turtle

The species also goes by Siamese temple turtle or smiling terrapin. These small turtles mainly inhabit shallow water bodies with vegetation. You will find black marsh turtles throughout southeastern Asian countries. Such as,

  • Southern Vietnam 
  • Southern Myanmar
  • Cambodia 
  • Central and Peninsular Thailand 
  • Singapore 
  • Eastern and Western Malaysia 
  • Indonesian islands (Java, Sumatra, and Borneo)
See also  Top 10 Mistakes To Avoid When Raising a Pet Turtle: Expert Advice

13. Philippine Forest Turtles

According to a survey in 2018, only about 10K Philippine forest turtles are alive right now. The chunk population of this species lives in Northern Palawan and surrounding islands. Their primary habitat is lowland riparian forests in creeks, rivers, streams, and swamps.

14. Wood Turtles

We are familiar with almost 9 subspecies of wood turtles. The main habitats of these turtles are riparian rivers, wetlands, large streams, rivers, hayfields, etc.

Go through the geographical locations of each species from below, 

Wood Turtle Subspecies Native Locations
North American Wood TurtleEastern Canada, southern Quebec, southern Ontario, Northeastern states of USA (From Nava Scotia and south New Brunswick to Northern Virginia through New England, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey north sides), northern Michigan, northern and southern Wisconsin, eastern Minnesota, and northern Iowa
Central American Wood Turtle(Central and Northern South America) In the north, the population ranges from Panama and Mexico to Ecuador. Similarly, the habitat is stretched to Brazil in the south.
Furrowed Wood TurtleFrom southeastern Mexico to Honduras, throughout Central America 
Black Wood TurtleNicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras 
Maracaibo Wood TurtleCentral America, the Caribbean, South America, Colombia, and Venezuela
Spot Legged Wood TurtleThroughout South America (Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, French Guiana, and Brazil)
Brown Wood TurtleCentral America, South America (north portion)
Large Nosed Wood TurtleEcuador and Colombia 
Colombian Wood TurtleColombia, Panama and Ecuador  
Painted Wood Turtle From Sanora, Mexico, through Central America Pacific coasts to Costa Rica.

Read this guide before getting a wood turtle. 

15. Cooters

More or less 7 cooter subspecies are seen throughout the USA. Basically, the species is endemic to North America and primarily spotted in the eastern and central parts.

The habitat range stretches north to northern Ohio and south to northern Florida. It also includes west to eastern Texas, southern Virginia to central Georgia, north to southern Indiana, and Oklahoma. 

Usually, the river cooters prefer large lakes and rivers as habitats. But wetlands, ponds, and floodplain river pools are also considered comfortable homes for these turtles.

Geographical locations of different cooter subspecies are mentioned below, 

See also  How To Adopt & Rescue Turtles?
Different Cooter Subspecies Native Locations
Texas River Cooter Texas (Brazos, San Antanio, Neuces), California (Colorado), Guadalupe.
Florida Red Bellied Cooter Florida, southern Georgia, and south Calorina  
Alabama Red Bellied Cooter Mobile Bay, Alabama 
Peninsula CooterMassachusetts and New Jersey to North Carolina 
Coastal Plain Cooter USA southeastern coastal plain (from southeastern Virginia to westward Mobile Bay, Alabama and southward Florida)
Rio Grande Cooter Texas, New Mexico, Mexico Rio Grande drainage ( Tamaulipas,Chihuahua, Coahuila, and Nuevo León)

16. Spotted Turtle

Generally, spotted turtles thrive in isolated, localized populations. Unfortunately, the species population is declining, and it is getting rare.

However, spotted turtles inhabit bogs, swamps, wetlands, fens, marshes, shallow aquatic areas with abundant vegetation, wet pastures, etc. You may also find these reptiles in woodland marshes, ditches, small water bodies, and still water.

Though endemic to North America, the species is also seen in Canada. Their distribution starts from Ontario (eastern Greater Lake region) and stretches west to Michigan and south to Illinois.

A handful of spotted turtle populations occupy the eastern seaboard (from southern Maine and Quebec to south Florida). Scattered habitats of the species are also seen in Ohio and Indiana.

17. Yellow Spotted Amazon River Turtles

The name itself implies the native region of these turtles. Yes, the yellow spotted Amazon river turtles are native to North America and live throughout the Amazon River basin. No wonder why the population is mainly seen in the Amazon and Orinoco river systems. 

Regions that include the habitat of this species are,

  • Venezuela 
  • Northern Peru 
  • Northern Bolivia 
  • Eastern Ecuador
  • Eastern Colombia 
  • Guinea
  • Brazil 

These yellow spotted river turtles mainly inhabit slow-moving streams, lakes, and oxbow ponds.

18. Musk Turtles

Apparently, musk turtles release a foul odor to defend themselves in danger. Hence, the species get their name.

In the wild, the turtles inhabit any permanent freshwater bodies, including lakes, rivers, ponds, shallow streams, and creeks. Though the native distribution of musk turtle subspecies varies, the habitat preference is the same.

Musk Turtle Subspecies Native Locations
Common Musk Turtle Throughout the Eastern USA (from south Maine west to Texas, and south to Florida), Wisconsin, southern Quebec, and southern Ontario.
Mexican Giant Musk Turtle Mexico, Venezuela, northeastern Guatemala, Belize, and western Honduras 
Chiapas Giant Musk Turtle Central America 
Razorback Musk Turtle Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, and Florida 
Loggerhead Musk Turtle From central Florida to Lousiana and Virginia (Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, south-central Mississippi) rivers 
Flattened Musk Turtle Alabama 

19. Mud Turtles 

Unlike many turtle species, mud turtles are compatible with fresh and brackish water. From the name, you can guess that these turtles are bottom dwellers. So, you will find mud turtles at the muddy or sandy bottoms of marshes, lakes, wet ditches, small ponds, and fields. 

The native habitats of 6 different mud turtle subspecies are,

Mud Turtle Subspecies Native Distributions
Red Cheeked Mud TurtleCentral America, South America, and Mexico 
Eastern Mud Turtle Southeastern and Northeastern USA
Mississippi Mud Turtle Eastern Oklahoma, Central Texas to New York and Florida 
Striped Mud Turtle Southeastern USA (south Carolina, Georgia, Florida)
White Lipped Mud Turtle Southern Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia, Panama, Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru, and Nicaragua.
Yellow Mud Turtle Nebraska to northern Mexico, southeastern Arizona to Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri

Are you compatible with mud turtles? Find out.

20. Softshell Turtles

The appearance of softshell turtles is very different from other species. Take the shells as examples. These species have flat, soft, and rubber-like shells, which justifies the name. 

Softshell turtles can survive fresh and brackish water sources like ponds, marshes, streams, and ditches. They have a minimum of 13 subspecies, divided based on their appearance and location. Such as,

Softshell Turtle Subspecies Native Locations
Spiny Softshell Turtle Throughout the United States
Florida Softshell Turtle Throughout Florida, southeastern South Carolina, and southern Georgia 
Chinese Softshell Turtle China and Taiwan 
Smooth Softshell TurtleMississippi River drainage (from Louisiana to North Dakota and Pennsylvania)
Asiatic Softshell Turtle Southeastern Asia (Java, Borneo, Sumatra and Lombok)
Yangtze Softshell Turtle Eastern China (Yangtze River and Lake Tai), Southern China (Gejiu, Jianshui, Yuanyang and Honghe in Yunnan Province)
Malayan Softshell Turtle Java, Indonesia, Brunei, Kalimantan, Mayanmar, Malaysia (Sabah, Sarawak), Singapore, Philippines
Indian Softshell Turtle Northern India, Bangladesh, southern Nepal, and Bangladesh 
Black Softshell Turtle Bangladesh (Sylhet and Chittagong), India (Assam and Tripura)
African Softshell Turtle East, West and Middle Africa, Senegal to Turkey
Leith’s Softshell Turtle  Indian river peninsular (Bhavani, Moyar, Thungabhadra, Godavari, Ghataprabha, Thungabhadra), Pune
Euphrates Softshell Turtle Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syrian Arab Republic 

Learn how to set up the softshell turtle’s pen from here.

21. Snapping Turtles 

From the look to the lifestyle, snapping turtles are tough creatures. They will inhabit any permanent or semi-permanent water bodies like lakes, streams, rivers, creeks, and marshes. These turtles are also seen in swamps, bogs, pools, and impoundments. 

The 2 subspecies of snapping turtles share differences in appearance and native ranges. For example, the common snapping turtles occupy some western USA states, Central America, and eastern USA to rocky mountains. Their homes are also stretched from southern Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. 

On the contrary, the habitats of alligator snapping turtles are not that scattered. Their habitat stretches from Florida to Texas and includes northern Illinois.

22. Bog Turtles

The main habitats of bog turtles are wetlands, wet pastures, and wet meadows. These turtles only thrive in sources consisting of calcium carbonate or lime. The species is endemic to the eastern United States, and the population is scattered in colonies.

You will find these turtles in the following places,

  • Western Massachussettes 
  • Western Connecticut 
  • Throughout New York 
  • Maryland 
  • Virginia 
  • North Carolina 
  • Georgia 

23. Stripe Necked Turtles

Chinese striped neck turtles are popular because of their unique appearance. This species is endemic to China but also seen in Vietnam and Korea. They inhabit slow-moving water sources, ponds, canals, and rivers.

24. Map Turtles

Generally, map turtles inhabit river bottoms, ponds, lakes, and swamps. These turtles require a sandy bottom to thrive. Native distribution of different map turtle subspecies is given below, 

Map Turtle Subspecies Native Locations
False Map TurtleMissouri and Mississippi River systems 
Cagle’s Map Turtle Texas (San Antonio, San Marcos, and Guadalupe rivers)
Black Knobbed Map Turtle Alabama (Mobile Bay Drainage), Jefferson County, Alabama (Black Warrior river), Mississippi (Tombigbee River system)
Ringed Map Turtle Louisiana and Mississippi (Pearl River system)
Yellow Blotched map Turtle Pascagoula River of Mississippi
Alabama Map turtle Eastern Louisiana (Pearl River system) to western Georgia (Coosa and Tallapoosa River), Alabama, Mississippi 
Texas Map Turtle Texas (Colorado river basin)
Barbour’s Map Turtle Southwestern Georgia, southeastern Alabama, and western Florida 
Escambia Map Turtle Florida (Escambia) and southern Alabama 
Pascagoula Map TurtlePascagoula river, USA
Northern Map Turtle From Ontario and Southern Quebec to northern Vermont 
Ouachita Map Turtle Cumberland, Mississippi and Tennessee Rivers
Sabine Map Turtle Louisiana and Texas (Sabine River)
Mississippi Map Turtle Mississippi River and water bodies in Illinois and Missouri 

The complete care sheet of map turtles is attached here.

map turtle facts

25. Box Turtles 

Well, box turtles are neither aquatic nor semi-aquatic. Instead, these turtles live in moist or dry lands like thickets, woodlands, bogs, marshes, and stream banks. The native regions of different box turtle subspecies are, 

Box Turtle Subspecies Native Distributions 
Eastern Box Turtle The eastern half of USA (from southeastern Maine to west to central Illinois, south to northern Florida, and to southeastern New York)
Florida Box Turtle Georgia 
Gulf Coast Box Turtle From Louisiana to Florida along the Gulf Coast of Mexico 
Mexican Box Turtles Mexican states (Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosí and Veracruz)
Woodland Box Turtle Eastern USA
Three Toed Box Turtle South-central USA (From Missouri and Oklahoma, west into Texas and south to Alabama)
Yucatan Box Turtle Mexico Yucatan peninsula 
Aquatic Box Turtle Coahuila, Mexico
Desert Box Turtle Southeastern Arizona, from Texas Trans-Pecos region into New Mexico, southern desert regions of Mexico
Ornate Box TurtleKansas, Illinois, Iowa, Colorado, Nebraska, Nebraska, Wisconsin
Spotted Box Turtle Mexico 
Asian Box Turtle Southeast Asia (Malaysia, Indonesia, and Borneo to Singapore and Thailand)

Learn the ultimate trick to raise box turtles without hassle from this article.

26. Sea Turtles 

The mysterious sea turtles can not survive in the freshwaters. They require high salt-concentrated seawater to thrive. No wonder why you can not pet a sea turtle at home. 

8 subspecies of sea turtles are available right now, all living in the open ocean. The geographical locations are mentioned below, 

Sea Turtle Subspecies Native Locations 
Green Sea Turtle The green sea turtles are abundantly found in the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. Besides, these majestic creatures in the USA are seen in Atlantic and Mexican water, from Texas to Maine. The US Virgin island and Puerto Rico are also homes of the subspecies. 
Leatherback Sea Turtle Waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Ocean 
Loggerhead Sea Turtle Mediterranean Sea, and Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans
Flatback Sea Turtle Mostly in Australian water and a notable population in Papua New Guinea’s coastal water
Kemp Ridley’s Sea Turtle Gulf of Mexico
Olive Ridley’s Sea Turtle Waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Ocean 
Hawksbill Sea Turtle Throughout all tropical and subtropical oceans 

Before You Go

Can you identify different turtle species? The article below has the simplest tricks to help you determine any turtle species within minutes. 

How To Identify Turtles?

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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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