Spotted turtle (Clemmys guttata)
There is one 12-year-old male spotted turtle named Spot in the Zoo's Education Collection. Spotted turtles are a very small species, usually around three to five inches. The maximum recorded carapace length is five and a half inches. The adult carapace is smooth, without obvious growth ridges (annuli), with a black or brownish-black background color. The lower shell is yellow and black in color. They have yellow spots on the head, neck, legs and upper shell. Background coloration is black.
Status in the wild
Although there is no conservation status for the spotted turtle on a Federal level, it is listed as special concern in NY State. Other states with conservation concern include Illinois and Ohio where it is listed as endangered; Maine and Vermont where is it listed threatened; Indiana where it is listed as special concern and Massachusetts, where it is listed as protected. Loss of habitat has been largely responsible for the major decline of the spotted turtle throughout its entire New York State range. This turtle is very sensitive to pollution and toxicants and disappears rapidly with declining water quality. To further stress the species, pet collecting is currently responsible for the annual loss of significant numbers.
The range of spotted turtles extends from southern Maine and extreme southern Ontario west to Illinois and south to northern Florida in the east. Isolated colonies can be found in southern Quebec, southern Ontario, central Illinois, central Georgia and north-central Florida. Spotted turtles prefer shallow waters with a soft bottom substrate and both submerged and emergent vegetation. These can include sedge meadows, boggy ponds, fens, tamarack swamps and slow, muddy streams.
Spotted turtles eat a variety of plant and animal foods, which are consumed in the water. Vegetable foods include algae, leaves of soft aquatic plants, and water lily seeds. Animal foods include worms, mollusks, crustaceans, adult and larval insects, amphibian eggs and larvae and carrion.
- An interesting note is that females in conservation care have been reported to lay multiple clutches and far more eggs in a year's time. One female in conservation care from New York produced eight clutches in a thirteen month period, for a total of forty-two eggs! Such reports suggest that female spotted turtles are capable of a greater production of eggs than is normally seen in the wild, but are constrained by unknown environmental factors (such as a limited food supply or short activity season).
- It is common for spotted turtles to live at least twenty-five years. Reportedly they can live to be as old as fifty.