Elms Environmental Education Center

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March 2018: Spotted Turtle

Spotted Turtle


Spotted Turtle
Clemmys guttata

Who am I?

 I am a small, well, spotted turtle you may find in forest wetlands or wandering about from one wet area to another. Generally I like slow moving, clean water with soft bottoms where I can hide if something is trying to eat me. Like many turtles it is easy to tell if I am a male or a female by the curve on my belly (the plastron). Females have flat bellies and males have dented bellies. You can tell I am a male from the picture too -- my eyes are are dark and my chin is tan. Females would have orange eyes and yellow or orange chins. Anyway, I live in mud puddles and am one of the first reptiles to emerge in the spring. Since there are not many of us you may not notice. My mate will make a nest in May and lay a clutch of rarely more than 8 eggs. My babies will usually emerge in August or September. 

Where can you find me?

 My range is becoming smaller and more fragmented every year. The pools of water in forests and meadows where I live are often drained by people. Still, I can be found from southern Canada to Florida, usually along the coast. Another group lives just south of the great lakes from Michigan to New York.

What do I eat?

 I am an omnivore which means I will eat just about anything -- except dead stuff, I don't like dead stuff. But young tender plants, mollusks, worms, amphibian eggs are all up for lunch.

What might eat me?

 Raccoons and muskrats are especially adept at eating me.

Cool reasons why I am the critter of the month!

  •  Like many other reptiles the sex of my babies is determined, in part, by the temperature of the soil. Warmer temperatures produce females and colder temperatures produce males.
  • You may find my shell dented and nicked up from other critters who have tried to eat me.
  • The spotted turtle is currently under study for possible inclusion as a federally listed species.

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