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Spiny Softshell (Apalone spinifera) turtles exhibit scarring consistent with attempted lamprey bites

Christina M. Davy, Juliana Skuza, Amelia K. Whitear


We captured 46 Spiny Softshells (Apalone spinifera) during a mark–recapture study on Lake Erie (2012–2015). Six (13%) exhibited circular scars consistent with the bites of small parasitic lampreys. Two species of parasitic lampreys occur in Lake Erie: the invasive Sea Lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) and the native Silver Lamprey (Ichthyostomyzon unicuspis). The scars showed only the marks of the putative teeth surrounding the suctorial mouth, preventing identification based on the position of the supraoral teeth and suggesting that lampreys are rapidly dislodged from the turtles. To our knowledge, this is the first evidence of lampreys biting freshwater turtles.


Spiny Softshell turtle; Apalone spinifera; Ichthyostomyzon unicuspis; parasitic lamprey; Petromyzon marinus; Sea Lamprey; Silver Lamprey; turtle; Lake Erie

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