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AGFC calling on citizen scientists to help with turtle search

BY Randy Zellers

ON 04-12-2023


April 12, 2023

Randy Zellers

Assistant Chief of Communications

LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is again asking for help from hikers, hunters, anglers and herpetology enthusiasts to be on the lookout for a rare species found in The Natural State. Kelly Irwin, the AGFC’s herpetologist, says sightings of the species anywhere in the state will help biologists conduct population surveys to determine the status of this species in Arkansas.

Chicken turtles are found in marshes, swamps and beaver ponds, primarily central, eastern and southern Arkansas. They are roughly the same size and color as red-eared sliders and river cooters, two other semi-aquatic turtles which are more common. Mature chicken turtles will have oval shells from 4 to 6 inches long with brown-olive plates featuring a faint yellow netlike pattern.

“To the untrained eye, they’re easily confused for sliders,” Irwin said. “But it’s pretty easy to determine if you have a chicken turtle. Look at the hind quarters. If the yellow stripes are straight up and down, it’s a chicken turtle.”

A few distinguishing marks make the chicken turtle easy to identify.
Irwin says the AGFC has been involved in a multi-year survey process to find and record as many locations and populations of this species as possible. Chicken turtles are listed in the Arkansas Wildlife Action Plan as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need, a status indicating downward population trends or too little data to make determinations on the overall health of the species. Successful surveys of the species can help researchers with not only information on this species, but also help focus conservation efforts in the future.  

Text or email any images and location details of turtles with the vertical yellow stripes (AKA: “striped pants”) to Irwin at: 501.539.0431 or




Chicken turtle
Chicken turtles are listed in the Arkansas Wildlife Action plan as a “species of greatest conservation need.”

ID Flyer
A few distinguishing marks make the chicken turtle easy to identify.

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