Distribution

Softshell turtles are found in lowland temperate regions east of the Rocky Mountains of North America, in sub-Saharan Africa and along the Nile River into Egypt, and across the Mediterranean Sea to southern Turkey and the Middle East. They also are present from eastern Pakistan, throughout India and southern Asia along the coast of China into southeastern Russia, and throughout the Indo-Australian archipelago to the southern shores of Irian Jaya, but there are no living species in Australia. The Malayan softshell (Dogania subplana) is the only species known to inhabit streams at high elevations. Triony-chids formerly were distributed throughout Europe, South America, and Australia, as well as the three continents where they occur today. The Chinese softshells (Pelodiscus sinensis, Palea steindachneri) have been established by accidental or intentional introductions outside the known range. Extralimital populations of both species, farmed throughout Southeast Asia, have been documented in the Hawaiian Islands.

The eastern spiny softshell turtle (Trionyx spiniferus) has a leathery shell rather than the typical hard scutes of other turtles. (Photo by Robert P. Carr. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

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