The uncommon but relatively widespread Blanding’s Turtle is a medium-sized turtle with a bright yellow throat and an obvious domed shell. The dark domed upper shell is speckled with numerous faint yellow markings and the black and yellow under-shell is hinged, allowing it to partially close. Blanding’s Turtle frequent the shallow water of marshes, lakes, and ponds, but also wander over land. The Blanding’s Turtle is found from central Ontario south through the Carolinian Region of Ontario, the Midwestern U.S., with disjunct populations in the east.
The Blanding’s Turtle is a poor swimmer and is often seen basking on logs, rocks, or vegetation. Laying 6 to 13 eggs in early summer, this is when they are most likely to be encountered far from water in woodlands, fields, and along roads. The Blanding’s Turtle feeds on plants, mollusks, crustaceans, and aquatic insects.
- High-domed shell and bright yellow throat and chin
- Similar species: Spotted turtle is small with fewer, larger, more conspicuous dots.
Of the 8 species of turtle found in Ontario, 7 are found locally here in Norfolk County. Unfortunately, all are under threat.
As temperatures rise, turtles emerge from dormancy and will soon begin to move toward their nesting sites, often taking them across local roads. Unfortunately, this puts them at great risk of road mortality. It is important for individuals to slow down on rural roads and brake for snakes and turtles to allow them to safely cross the road as they seek food and nesting areas. Locally there have been efforts to install protective fencing and structures to help keep turtles safe. Reptiles and amphibians help to keep wetlands healthy by cleaning up wetlands, dispersing seeds, eating pests, and sustaining the balance of the food web.
Report wildlife sightings of turtles on roads to iNaturalist – the Wildlife On Roads group has a dedicated iNaturalist project here to record your observations and help to support species protection and recovery efforts.
– Brianne Curry, Outreach & Development Manager