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Texas Turtles & Crocodilians

Texas Turtles & Crocodilians
A Field Guide

In this extensively illustrated field guide, two of the state’s most knowledgeable herpetologists present the first complete identification guide to all thirty-one native and established exotic turtle species in Texas, as well as the American Alligator.

Series: Texas Natural History Guides™

January 2016
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276 pages | 4.25 x 7.25 | 117 color photos, 36 maps |

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Content from "Texas Turtles & Crocodilians"Content from "Texas Turtles & Crocodilians"Content from "Texas Turtles & Crocodilians"

Texas has a large and diverse turtle population, with forms that are found nowhere else (Cagle’s Map Turtle and the Texas Map Turtle) and wide-ranging species that barely touch the state, including the Painted Turtles and the Rough-footed Mud Turtle. From the Sabine River to El Paso, and from the Rio Grande to the Panhandle, thirty-one native and established exotic turtle species are definitely known in Texas, along with one crocodilian, the American Alligator.

Texas Turtles & Crocodilians is the first complete identification guide to all the state’s turtles and to its single alligator. It offers detailed species accounts, range maps, and excellent color photographs to aid in field identification. The authors, two of the state’s most knowledgeable herpetologists, open the book with a broad overview of turtle natural history, conservation biology, observation, and captive maintenance before providing a key to Texas turtles and accounts of the various turtle families and species. Appendices provide brief accounts of species that occurred prehistorically in Texas and non-established exotic species, as well as a table of Texas’ major watersheds and the turtle diversity in each one. Informational resources on Texas turtles and alligators, a map of Texas counties, a glossary, a bibliography, and indexes of common and scientific names complete the volume.

  • Foreword by David Haynes
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
    • What Is a Turtle?
      • Evolutionary History
      • Two Main Turtle Groups
      • Relationship between Turtles and Other “Reptiles”
    • What is a Crocodilian?
      • Evolutionary History
      • Three Main Crocodilian Groups
      • Relationship between Crocodilians and Other “Reptiles”
      • Relationship between Crocodilians and Birds
    • Natural History
      • Activity and Seasonality
      • Reproduction
      • Behavior
    • Major Watersheds in Texas and Turtle Diversity
      • Mississippi Watershed
        • Canadian River
        • Red River
      • Sabine and Neches Watersheds
        • Sabine River
        • Neches River
      • Trinity Watershed
      • Brazos Watershed
      • Colorado Watershed
      • Guadalupe Watershed
      • Nueces River
      • Rio Grande Watershed
        • Rio Grande
        • Pecos River
        • Devils River
    • Conservation
      • Habitat Loss and Fragmentation
      • Pollution
      • Climate Change
      • Introduced Species
      • Effects of Predator Control on Turtles and Turtle Nests
      • Effects of the International Trade in Turtle Meat Products
      • Collection for the Pet Trade as Cause of Decline
      • Impacts of Fisheries Practices upon Turtle Species
      • Historic Declines and Recovery of the American Alligator
      • Impacts of Sport Hunting on American Alligator Population in Texas
    • Observation and Collection of Turtles and Crocodilians
      • Observation of Turtles and Crocodilians
      • Turtle and Crocodilian Photography
      • Collection of Turtles
      • Legal Aspects of Collecting Turtles and Crocodilians
        • Local Laws
        • Texas State Laws
        • Federal Laws
      • Permits and Collecting Turtles and Crocodilians in Texas
      • Threatened, Endangered, and Protected Nongame Species
    • Maintenance of Turtles and Crocodilians
      • Maintenance of Turtles and Crocodilians in Captivity
      • Creation of Turtle and Crocodilian Habitat
      • Handling of Turtles and Crocodilians
    • Museum and Preserved Specimens
    • Scientific and Common Names
  • Dichotomous Key to Texas Turtles
    • Dichotomous Keys
    • Key to Texas Turtles
  • Systematic Accounts
    • Class: Chelonia
    • Order Cryptodeira
      • Family: Chelydridae
        • Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)
        • Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macrochelys temminckii)
      • Family: Emydidae
        • Cagle’s Map Turtle (Graptemys caglei)
        • Ouachita Map Turtle (Graptemys ouachitensis)
        • Sabine Map Turtle (Graptemys sabinensis)
        • False Map Turtle (Graptemys pseudogeographica)
        • Texas Map Turtle (Graptemys versa)
        • Diamond-backed Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin)
        • River Cooter (Pseudemys concinna)
        • Rio Grande Cooter (Pseudemys gorzugi)
        • Texas River Cooter (Pseudemys texana)
        • Florida Red-bellied Cooter (Pseudemys nelsoni)--introduced
        • Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta)
        • Mexican Plateau Slider (Trachemys gaigeae)
        • Pond Slider (Trachemys scripta)
        • Chicken Turtle (Deirochelys reticularia)
        • Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina)
        • Ornate Box Turtle (Terrapene ornata)
      • Family: Testudinidae
        • Texas Tortoise (Gopherus berlandieri)
      • Family: Trionychidae
        • Smooth Softshell (Apalone mutica)
        • Spiny Softshell (Apalone spinifera)
      • Family: Kinosternidae
        • Yellow Mud Turtle (Kinosternon flavescens)
        • Rough-footed Mud Turtle (Kinosternon hirtipes)
        • Eastern Mud Turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum)
        • Razor-backed Musk Turtle (Sternotherus carinatus)
        • Stinkpot (Sternotherus odoratus)
      • Family: Cheloniidae
        • Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta)
        • Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)
        • Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
        • Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys kempii)
      • Family: Dermatochelyidae
        • Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)
    • Class: Crocodilia
      • Family: Alligatoridae
        • American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)
  • Appendix A: Species with Prehistoric Occurrence in Texas
  • Appendix B: Nonestablished Exotic Species
  • Appendix C: Table of Texas Turtles and Crocodilians and River Drainages They Inhabit
  • Appendix D: Turtle and Crocodilian Informational Resources
  • Appendix E: Map of Texas Counties
  • Glossary
  • Bibliography
  • Index of Common Names
  • Index of Scientific Names

Brackettville, Texas

Hibbitts, a high school science teacher, is a past president and current member of the Texas Herpetological Society. He coauthored Texas Amphibians: A Field Guide and Texas Lizards: A Field Guide.

Camp Wood, Texas

Hibbitts, a trained biologist, is an Honorary Life Member and past president of the Texas Herpetological Society, as well as its current editor. He also coauthored Texas Amphibians: A Field Guide.


“Overall, this is a useful guide to the turtles of Texas. . . . there are no other books that are designed to enable a person to identify and learn something about the turtles observed while in the field in Texas. ”
Herpetological Review

“This book fills a void for Texas, which currently lacks a definitive guide to the state’s turtle fauna. The high quality of the photographic images should make this book especially appealing to both laypersons and professional biologists.”
Robert Hansen, Editor, Herpetological Review