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Crooked Creek’s Turtles (FBCEC)

TopicHabitat and Management - Species and Habitat Management
Wildlife - Reptiles
Crooked Creek is prime turtle real estate. In this hands-on activity, participants will distinguish between terrestrial and aquatic species common to Arkansas and become familiar with biology and behavior of some common Ozark turtles.

Grade LevelK - 12
Recommended SettingIndoor or outdoor classroom
LocationFred Berry Conservation Education Center, Yellville, AR
Education Program Coordinator, 879-449-3484
Duration45 minutes - 1 hour
Suggested Number of ParticipantsUp to 30
Special Conditions
Live animals are used and must be currently available. Inquire.

  • Learn about turtle behavior, characteristics, biology and habitat.
  • Compare and contrast terrestrial and aquatic species of turtles.
  • Examine live turtles (when available).
  • Examine shells and other items from the classroom collection.
  • Understand the role of turtles in our environment.


Key Terms*








AGFC reptile trading cards

Classroom collection of turtle shells and, if available, live turtles

Turtle posters/Illustrations/photos



More than 15 species of turtles are in Arkansas. Crooked Creek is home to several aquatic turtle species like red-eared sliders, common map turtles, spiny soft-shelled turtles and common snapping turtles. Three-toed box turtles are common terrestrial residents. Like other reptiles, turtles are cold-blooded, have scaly skin and lay eggs.

  1. Begin by asking participants about turtles they have seen in the area, describing the turtles and where they saw them.
  2. Introduce the terms “terrestrial” and “aquatic,” and discuss the different habitats.
  3. Show posters, pictures or slide show of Arkansas’ turtles. If available, show live turtles while describing characteristics and adaptations. Display the turtle shell collection (three-toed box turtle, common snapping turtle, map turtle, Mississippi mud turtle and stinkpot turtle) as you discuss features of each shell. Allow participants to examine live turtles, then handle and observe features of the classroom turtle shell collection.
  4. Discuss the decline of turtle populations and the roles of turtles in their ecosystem as well as ways to preserve turtle habitat.

Play a modified version of Turtle Hurdles from Aquatic WILD, page 158.

  • Compare and contrast aquatic turtles to terrestrial turtles.
  • What are some characteristics all turtles share?
  • List three turtle species found in or near Crooked Creek, and describe each one’s habitat needs.

Aquatic – consisting of or relating to water; living or growing in, on or near the water


Cold blooded (ectothermic) – relating to an organism that regulates its body temperature by exchanging heat with its surroundings


Ecosystem – plants and animals interacting with each other and their physical environment


Habitat – an arrangement of food, water, shelter or cover, and space suitable to animals’ needs


Terrestrial – living on or in the ground