SPOTTED TURTLE} Clemmys guttata
FAMILY: Phoenicopteridae

DESCRIPTION: A small, black turtle with yellow spots on its smooth shell.

HABITAT: The spotted turtle occupies a wide variety of shallow wetland habitats across its range and during the year. Habitat requirements include clear, clean water; a soft substrate; and aquatic or emergent vegetation. In some parts of its range and during certain times of the year, it spends considerable time on land. It often basks along the water's edge, on brush piles in water, or on logs or vegetation clumps.

RANGE: This turtle can be found in Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, Vermont and West Virginia.

MIGRATION: Over the course of a year, spotted turtles typically visit multiple wetlands to forage, mate, thermoregulate and overwinter, requiring frequent overland migrations and road crossings that make them especially vulnerable to road mortality.
BREEDING: These turtles reach sexual maturity at about 10 years of age.

LIFE CYCLE: Spotted turtles generally live at least 26 years, but their lifespans may be as long as 50 years.

FEEDING: Spotted turtles are omnivorous, though they feed preferentially on small, live animal prey, such as snails, worms, slugs and spiders.

THREATS: The spotted turtle is threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, overcollection for food or to sell as pets, road mortality, climate change and predation.

POPULATION TREND: Although the spotted turtle is widespread — it used to be the most common turtle species in some areas — it has likely suffered more than 50 percent overall reduction in population size, with much of this loss irreversible because of habitat depletion.

Photo courtesy Flickr/Zack