These turtles can often be seen basking on sand banks in streams and beaver dams in ponds that are connected to waterways. At a distance, spiny softshells are difficult to distinguish from smooth softshells. They can occasionally be found by walking in stream bottoms when water is low and searching in pools. They are common in most permanent streams and lakes, but often remain hidden under the sand. By remaining stationary for five to ten minutes and carefully searching the surface of the water in shallow areas, an observer can see their heads when they project them out of the sand and to the water surface to breath. Softshells are powerful swimmers, can run rapidly on land, and have sharp beaks and powerful jaws. They should be handled with car by gripping at the back of the shell.
(This profile was created by Dr. Laurie Vitt as part of a partnership between the Wildlife Department and the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. It was funded as part of a larger State Wildlife Grant to survey and inventory amphibians and reptiles of the Wildlife Management Areas of Oklahoma: T-35-P-1.)