If you’ve ever seen a Spotted turtle in the wild you are one lucky person. These small turtles with black shells and bright yellow spots are not difficult to pick out of a lineup, but that doesn’t make them easy to find. They are so rare that spotting a Spotted turtle is as difficult to do as it is to say and that’s why they need your help.
DID YOU KNOW…Spotted turtles hibernate during the winter? When the temperature starts to drop, they find a nice warm place in the mud to settle until April.
While Spotted turtles love to swim, they also spend a lot of time on land. This is especially true when it comes time to nest. Females will leave the water to find the perfect place to lay their eggs. They pick spots in full sunlight, like along man-made dams or on top of muskrat lodges. However, leaving their nest fully visible is a big risk and there are plenty of predators ready to pounce.
A full nest of eggs makes a tempting treat for many animals like, raccoons, red foxes, skunks and even ants. If these baby turtles escape being turned into lunch they still may run into poachers who will pick them up and sell them as pets. Because of threats like these a lot of Spotted turtles don’t make it to adulthood.
Spotted Turtles live in wetlands like swamps, bogs, fens and temporary spring pools. They really like areas with moss, grasses, cattails and waterlilies in waters that are shallow, slow-moving, have soft bottoms and aren’t polluted.
To protect the Spotted turtle we have to keep their homes just the way they like it and we have to keep these perfect spots TOP SECRET! We definitely don’t want any poachers to find out where Spotted turtles live and snatch up their eggs. So if you see a Spotted turtle, make sure you keep their location to yourself! Shhhhhh!
Apart from the egg-stealing poachers and hungry animals, Spotted turtles are also put at risk because of habitat loss. An invasive species called the common reed or Phragmites is overrunning their homes. These reeds are very tall and dense and these small turtles get trapped in them. Habitat loss also occurs because people are draining wetlands for new development projects.
Spotted Turtles are endangered and they need your help! Here’s what you can do:
- Start a Bring Back the Wild Campaign for the Spotted turtle. The money you raise will go to the following
- Removing invasive reeds before they take over their homes
- Designating their homes provincially significant. This means roads and buildings cannot be constructed in these areas
- Educating children about their habitats and letting them know what they can do to help
- Learn about the exotic pet trade and help keep species like the Spotted turtle in the wild
Read more about conservation of the Spotted Turtle
The Spotted Turtle Project is generously supported by Ontario Power Generation.