Animal Information

Red-cheeked Mud Turtle (Kinosternon cruentatum)

The name Kinosternon was derived from the Greek words kinetos, meaning "movable" and sternon, meaning "chest," in reference to the plastral hinges. The specific name scorpioides is derived from the Latin word "scorpio," probably in reference to the horny spine on the tip of the tail. Together with the Latin ending "oides," the full meaning translates to "similar to a scorpion"

The Red-cheeked Mud Turtle (Kinosternon scorpioides cruentatum) Kin·​o·​ster·​non is a species of mud turtle found in Mexico, Central America and South America.

These reptiles are endemic to the streams of Honduras, Nicaragua, and Southern Mexico, most commonly in El Salvador and Guatemala.

First described by Lois Agassiz, 1857. Agassiz served as a non-resident lecturer at Cornell University while also being on faculty at Harvard. In 1852.

He accepted a medical professorship of comparative anatomy at Charlestown, Massachusetts, but he resigned in two years. From this time, Agassiz’s, scientific studies dropped off, but he became one of the best-known scientists in the world.

The Kinosternidae are a family of mostly small turtles that includes the mud turtles and musk turtles.

The family contains 25 species within four genera, but taxonomic reclassification is an ongoing process, so many sources vary on the exact numbers of species and subspecies. The greatest species numbers are in Mexico, but only three species (K. dunni, K. leucostomum, and K. scorpioides) are found in South America.

  • Genus Kinosternon
  • Tabasco mud turtle – K. acutum
  • Alamos mud turtle – K. alamosae
  • Central American mud turtle – K. angustipons
  • Arizona mud turtle – K. arizonense
  • Striped mud turtle – K. baurii
  • Jalisco mud turtle – K. chimalhuaca
  • Creaser’s mud turtle – K. creaseri
  • Dunn’s mud turtle – K. dunni
  • Durango mud turtle – K. durangoense
  • Yellow mud turtle – K. flavescens
  • Herrera’s mud turtle – K. herrerai
  • Rough-footed mud turtle – K. hirtipes
  • Valley of Mexico mud turtle – K. h. hirtipes
  • Lake Chapala mud turtle – K. h. chapalaense
  • San Juanico mud turtle – K. h. magdalense
  • Viesca mud turtle – K. h. megacephalum
  • Mexican plateau mud turtle – K. h. murrayi
  • Patzcuarco mud turtle – K. h. tarascense
  • Mexican mud turtle – K. integrum
  • White-lipped mud turtle – K. leucostomum
  • Northern white-lipped mud turtle – K. l. leucostomum
  • Southern white-lipped mud turtle – K. l. postinguinale
  • Oaxaca mud turtle – K. oaxacae
  • Scorpion mud turtle – K. scorpioides
  • Scorpion mud turtle (subspecies) – K. s. scorpioides
  • Central Chiapas mud turtle – K. s. abaxillare
  • White-throated mud turtle – K. s. albogulare
  • Red-cheeked mud turtle – K. s. cruentatum
  • Sonora mud turtle – K. sonoriense
  • Sonoyta mud turtle – K. s. longifemorale Eastern mud turtle – K. subrubrum
  • Mississippi mud turtle – K. s. hippocrepis
  • Florida mud turtle – K. s. steindachneri
  • Vallarta mud turtle – K. vogti
  • Three-Striped mud turtle K. baurii

Identifying a Red-cheeked Kinosternon

The name Kinosternon and red-cheeked both refer to the characteristic bright red and orange spots splattered across its head.

The carapace is non-serrated, smooth, keelless and domed, giving it an almost semi-spherical appearance. Both sides of the head have elaborate and vivid orange or red patterns and coloration.

They have a bright yellow plastron with uniform symmetrical segments. The border of each segment is dark brown. Except for the ridges of the joint, the plastron is plain and has no distinct pattern.

The plastron is slightly smaller than the carapace and completely covers the turtle. The head, throat, limbs, and tail of the Red Cheeked Mud turtle are red or orange with irregular black spots.

The males are bigger than the females and have a longer heavier tail. The tail has a characteristic spur at its tip.

‘Sexing in hatchlings and juveniles is a bit difficult as they don’t show much sign of difference. As the male grows its tail elongates and a spur develops at its tip. The males can reach almost 7 inches while the females lag behind by only a few centimeters.

They have a dark brown carapace with shades of orange here and there. The hatchlings or yearlings have a brighter carapace and are mostly orange. As the turtle matures and ages the shell becomes darker.

Red-cheeked Mud Turtle Offspring Info

Kinosternids lay about four hard-shelled eggs. Incubation is moderately long, usually 100 to 150 days. during the late spring and early summer.

Kinosternids contains the only species of turtle known, or at least suspected, to exhibit parental care.

Studies of the yellow mud turtle in Nebraska, USA, suggest females sometimes stay with the nest and may urinate on the eggs long after laying, to either keep them moist or to protect them from snake predation (by making them less palatable)

After hatching, some species overwinter in the subterranean nest, emerging the following spring. Some adults also spend the winter on land, constructing a burrow with a small air hole used on warm days.

Diet Of The Red-cheeked Mud Turtle

All members of the Kinosternon family are carnivorous, feeding on crustaceans, aquatic insects, mollusks, annelids, amphibians, small fish, and sometimes carrion.

We suggest the Mazuri brand of food. Because it is a commercially formulated food with all the vitamins and minerals needed.

All are bottom walkers and poor swimmers. They forage and mate in water, however, some tropical species appear to forage on land during wet weather.

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