Creeping slowly along the stream bottom, the Sonoran mud turtle forages primarily for invertebrates, such as worms, crustaceans and insects (2), but it has also been known to eat frogs and fish (3). It spends the majority of its life submerged beneath underwater objects (6), but periodically surfaces to breathe (2) and may sometimes leave the cold water to bask on land (7).
During cold periods, the Sonoran mud turtle may be active during the day, whereas during warmer summer months it is more frequently active during the night (2). Should the water in its habitat dry up during these hot periods, the Sonoran mud turtle may migrate up to eight kilometres to find a new water source (7), or aestivate (lay dormant) underground (6). The Sonoran mud turtle may also lay dormant to escape cold winter conditions in some parts of its range, hibernating in a crevice in the stream bank or in the muddy bottoms of a stream or pond (2).
The Sonoran mud turtle mates in March or April (5), and nests from May onwards (7) at sites away from the water (8). Females may lay up to four clutches of eggs each year, with each clutch containing up to 11 eggs (3). The first young turtles emerge from their eggs around August, with hatching continuing at least until late September, and maybe even until December in some areas (2). Female Sonoran mud turtles reach sexual maturity at six years of age, while males may reach maturity sooner, at between two and six years of age. The oldest individual recorded so far lived to at 13 years old (5).