softshell turtle

Softshell turtle (family Trionychidae).

Any of more than 30 species (family Trionychidae) of swift-moving carnivorous turtles found in North America, Africa, and Asia. Thriving in fresh waters that have soft sandy or muddy bottoms, they often lie buried in mud or sand and occasionally emerge to bask in the sun. They have a pancakelike leathery shell, webbed feet, a long neck, and an elongated snout. Aggressive when captured, they can deliver rapid, vicious bites. North American species have a grayish or brown shell, 14–18 in. (35–45 cm) long. Two Old World species grow to 24 in. (60 cm) or more.

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