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Spotted turtle (Clemmys guttata)

Spotted turtle
Spotted turtle

Personal Information
These small, dark semi-aquatic turtles can be identified by the striking yellow spots scattered on their shell. At the Seneca Park Zoo, there are three spotted turtles on exhibit in the Zoo's Main Building and one as part of our Education Collection.

Status in the Wild
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List status: Endangered. These turtles are native to New York State and the Midwest. In these areas, fragmentation and loss of wetland habitats has resulted in the population decline of the spotted turtle. The loss of this animal is also attributed to them being used in the pet trade industry.

Habitat
Spotted turtles inhabit shallow, well-vegetated wetlands in the Eastern Seaboard and the Great Lakes region in the United States and prefer stagnant water in small lakes, swamps, ponds, bogs and ditches.

Diet
Spotted turtles are omnivores. They eat algae, water lily seeds, worms, slugs, grass, mollusks and amphibian eggs.

  • The average adult shell of a spotted turtle is 3 to 5 inches in length.
  • When the female spotted turtle is ready to lay her eggs, she will dig her nest in well-drained soil in a marshy pasture in full sunlight. There, she will lay three to five eggs and cover them with soil and grass. The incubation period takes approximately 70 to 83 days.
  • Spotted turtles are shy creatures. If disturbed in the water, they will dive down and bury themselves in the mud. If disturbed on land, they will retract into their shells for protection.
  • Spotted turtles are creatures of habit. They have their own favorite basking sites that they return to day after day.
  • The spotted turtle only eats underwater because it cannot swallow its food out of water. When spotted turtles hunt on land, they will bring their catch back into the water for consumption.