Rhode Island State Reptile
Spotted Turtle (common name)
Clemmys Guttata (scientific name)
The yellow-dotted turtle is one of the smallest semi-aquatic water or box turtles in the eastern U.S. In the wild, this turtle lives in fresh, shallow water. However, its size and appearance make it popular as a pet, even in areas where it’s legally protected.
ALSO KNOWN AS
Common box turtle
The spotted turtle has yellow speckles on its head, neck, and legs that distinguish it from similar turtles such as the bog turtle, Blanding’s turtle, and the painted turtle. This turtle’s dark shell is also covered with yellow spots and speckles, which are less bright on very young and very old turtles. Its underside is a lighter rosy orange color, tending toward light brown in males and yellow color in females. This coloring is most visible on the turtle’s chin. Male turtles have a concave undershell, but the female’s is flat.
Average 30 years, maximum 50 years.
Shallow freshwater with good vegetation including marshes, swampy meadows, bogs, woodland streams, irrigation canals, seasonal pools and shallow ponds.
Range: Eastern United States from southern Maine just into southern Ontario, west to Illinois and south into Florida. Also in the Great Lake region including northern Ohio and Indiana, Illinois, and western Michigan. Isolated populations in Quebec, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia.
Conservation status: Vulnerable (VU). The spotted turtle needs clean, shallow water and a quiet environment in a variety of locations, so pollution and urban development are particular threats to this species. This turtle is also a popular pet, so collection in the wild has also reduced spotted turtle numbers. The spotted turtle is now protected in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, and Massachusetts.
Spotted turtles are most active in the spring and travel to different locations throughout the year. They usually come out of hibernation in March and often spend the early part of the year near a temporary spring pool, where they mate. Males mate several times if they can, and it’s common for several males to chase a female over land and through water. The female travels elsewhere to build her nests—from one to three each year—in soft sand or earth, and lays about three to eight eggs per nest.
These eggs hatch a little over two months later, though spotted turtles sometimes overwinter in the nest. In the hottest summer months, adult spotted turtles go dormant and either bury themselves in mud at the bottom of a pond or sleep in another water animal’s burrow. In the fall, they emerge for a short active period and then go back into hibernation for the winter, often in the mud at the bottom of a marsh or a similar spot. Spotted turtles sometimes hibernate in groups and re-use the same den each year.
Aquatic grasses, green algae, insect larvae, small crustaceans, spiders, snails, worms, tadpoles, fish, salamanders and snakes.
Breeding interval: Annual
Hatching period: August-September
Average nest size: 4 eggs
Size at birth: length 1 in (2.5 cm)
Click to enlarge an image
Raw Data Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Author: World Trade Press