DEEP: Spotted Turtle

Spotted Turtle

(Clemmys guttata)

{Spotted Turtle}

IDENTIFICATION: A flat to moderately-domed, smooth-shelled, small turtle, readily distinguished by its black carapace with yellow polka-dot pattern. It has an orange marking on each side of its head, behind the eye. Adults 90-130 mm carapace length.

Spotted turtles are widely distributed in Connecticut, but are most common in the low-lying portions of the state, and are very rare at elevations above 900 feet (Klemens, 1993). They reach their northern range limits in southern portions of New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine. Spotted turtles have complex habitat requirements, often using several different types of shallow, vegetation-rich wetlands, including vernal pools, at different times of the year, as well as terrestrial habitats. Such rotational use of wetlands, with overland movements, is not well accommodated in current patterns of landscape development within Connecticut. Current development practice is to encircle each wetland with a small buffer of protected land, and to then allow development between these wetlands. This practice serves to isolate wetlands from one another, and makes overland migrations of amphibians and reptiles between these now isolated wetlands very difficult. These factors have resulted in a steady decline through attrition of the viability of Connecticut's spotted turtle populations. As this is a long-lived species, the long-term effect of habitat fragmentation will take decades to be fully manifested. Road mortality and over-collection of spotted turtles for the wild animal trade also poses a threat to their survival. The spotted turtle is of conservation concern throughout most of its range. Most states and provinces where it occurs afford it special status and/or some form of statutory protection.

Turtles | Amphibians and Reptiles in Connecticut