Spotted Turtle

The Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata) is a small freshwater turtle that inhabits shallow wetlands in the East Coast-Great Lakes Region. In early spring, Spotted Turtles migrate to wetland sites to breed. These breeding sites usually contain clean shallow water with a mud bottom and ample aquatic and emergent vegetation (i.e. bogs, fens, wet prairies, vernal pools, and even roadside ditches). The turtles become active very early in the spring, and can be found basking on logs, grass clumps, or swimming in shallow water.

Mating occurs in late winter and early spring, with eggs being laid late May – early June. During the hot summer months, the turtles go into aestivation (a time of inactivity), burying themselves in muskrat burrows or leaf litter. During fall months the turtles return to their hibernacula for a short period of activity before overwintering.

Member organizations of the Lake Erie Allegheny Partnership for Biodiversity (LEAP) are dedicated to the protection and restoration of biological diversity in our region. LEAP members have formed the Save and Protect Ohio Turtle Diversity (SPOTD) committee. The goals of this committee are to:

  • Increase survivorship of turtle hatchlings
  • Repatriate populations of this Ohio Threatened species in protected habitats within Northeast Ohio
  • Increase recruitment of these animals into the adult populations
  • Educate the public and involve local academics through research

Every spring, members of SPOTD begin by surveying historical or known locations for the presence of the turtle. By learning more about this turtle, we are able to determine current occurrence and distribution of the species, get a better handle on its threats, and further our understanding of the habitat characteristics required for sustaining viable populations.

There are many threats today that have a great impact on Spotted Turtle populations, such as:

  • Wetland Loss/Degradation
  • Habitat Fragmentation
  • Illegal Harvest/Pet Trade
  • Roadway Mortality
  • Climate Change
  • Human-caused increases in Meso-Predator Populations (i.e. Raccoon)
  • Delayed Sexual Maturity
  • Low Reproductive Potential
  • Pollution

We need your help finding populations of these turtles! During the months of March-May, as you are hiking through trails and natural areas please let us know if you see this yellow spotted, black turtle anywhere in Northeast Ohio! If possible, please include a photograph of the turtle. The SPOTD committee can be reached by emailing SPOTD@leapbio.org.