Chicken Turtle

Deirochelys reticularia


Chicken Turtles are secretive, ephemeral-wetland-inhabiting pond turtles found primarily in southeast Mississippi. There are also a few disjunct populations of chicken turtles in northwest Mississippi (Powell et al., 2016). Carapaces can be up to 10 inches in length with reticulation (hence reticularia) of yellow or greenish (Guyer et al., 2015). This species is known as having “striped pants;” the hind legs are vertically striped black and yellow. Chicken Turtles also have exceptionally long necks. Mississippi is home to 2 subspecies: the Eastern Chicken Turtle in the southeast and the Western Chicken Turtle in isolated populations in the northwest.  Crucial threats to this species include habitat loss.

Adult female Chicken Turtle from a small wetland in south Mississippi

Identifying Traits

  • Long neck
  • “Striped pants” vertical striping on hind legs
  • Wide horizontal bars on front legs

Subspecies Present:

Western Chicken Turtle (Deirochelys reticularia miaria);

Eastern Chicken Turtle (Deirochelys reticularia reticularia)


Ephemeral wetlands, shallow vegetated ponds



Suction feeder, primarily on aquatic invertebrates (Guyer et al., 2015). Usually found in and around ephemeral (seasonal) wetlands during active nesting seasons


Various invertebrates, fish

Western Chicken Turtle, St. Tammany Par. (LA), © Brittany Maldonado
Closeup of head, South Mississippi
Eastern Chicken Turtle crossing a road, Liberty Co. (FL)