This pair of Common Snapping Turtles, Chelydra serpentina serpentina, was in the middle of some noisy and dangerous foreplay. The hissing noise they made, like Darth Vader out of breath, was truly memorable. I could hear it from hundreds of feet away. Despite the amorous nature of the encounter, the larger one (and presumably the female) would bite periodically with sudden lunging grabs at the shell of her "lover" (as she is doing here). The bites would leave small marks on the edge of the mossy carapace. Despite my crawling up to within ten feet of them, I never disturbed their joyfully masochistic bonding. Below is a single Snapper in the same area taken this year. Likely one of our bonded pair on Round Mountain. Note the leeches.

The face of a snapper in transit across a roadway. Got some mud on him. Lovely blend of colors. Note the ant or beetle on the nose and face. It did not look like this guy or gal had been egglaying.

The somewhat tired look of a large female Alligator Snapping turtle, Macrochelys temminckii. This girl was probably 35 inches from shell front to back. Add tail and head and you have a big turtle. She was attempting to dig an area for her eggs which take about 100 days to hatch apparently. This was near a large swamp/lake in SW AR. She is the freshwater equivalent of the big oceangoing sea turtles. This snapper leaves the water only to nest, unlike the wandering Common Snapper. This is a species of concern and endangered in many southern states.  

A facial shot of the same big Alligator Snapper. The bite power has been greatly exaggerated by the public. But it is still a potent jawline. Has the small tongue protuberance in the floor of the mouth used for luring fish.

And not sure why it took so long to get a shot of this species, this is the Mississippi Mud Turtle, Kinosternon subrubrum hippocrepis, not a snapping turtle but one of our three small aquatic turtles in the separate family Kinosternidae. These are omnivores that wander the land near their water habitats. This one was in the back off-trail path at Bell Slough. Nicely patterned shell from the attached green life.

The daunting yet loveable face of the Mississippi Map Turtle, Graptemys kohnii. This large female was crossing the road near the Nursery Pond in my home county. I don't know where she was headed but I'm sure she moved on. We have several Map Turtles in the state and it is a confusing mess. The MMT (this gal) does consistently have the yellow arc behind the eye. It is partially hidden here with the head drawn in. But the status of the false map and true map species in Arkansas is complicated by hybridization in our state.

A young Softshell turtle of the Florida variety, Apalone ferox. There are three major species with the Florida being the most limited in distribution. It is darker and tends to favor the clear water lakes and canals of Florida. The Smooth Softshell, Apalone mutica, is probably the most common locally and otherwise Arkansas is at the juncture of about three subspecies of the Spiny Softshell, Apalone spinifera. Smoothies have round nostrils and Spiny species have slotted nostrils. Juveniles of all species are much more strongly marked.

A female Eastern River Cooter, Pseudeyms concinna. We stumbled on two of these on this day in mid-June laying eggs in various areas in the Pinnacle State Park area. Note the lack of the red ear and the very intricate shell markings. Only in egglaying time do we get to see them up close and not out on a river or lake log.

 

And another female Eastern River Cooter from 2013. She was up egglaying in Ed Gordon WMA a pretty good distance from the water of the swamp. The line details on the face are distinctive from the other turtles including the red eared.

And probably our most common aquatic species for AR. And the familiar pet animal. This is the Red-eared Slider, Trachemys scripta elegans. A shot from John Redman. I have yet to get a good image. Or find one egglaying. Known for the red postorbital stripe and this spotted plastron. Found anywhere in the state but prefers shallow quiet waters.