DEEP: Bog Turtle

Bog Turtle

(Clemmys muhlenbergii)


IDENTIFICATION: A very small turtle, with a moderately domed, sculptured carapace resembling a wood turtle, though older animals are worn smooth. There is an orange spot on each side of its head, similar to a spotted turtle. The carapace is oblong in shape, adults 80-95 mm carapace length.

The bog turtle appears restricted to the marble valleys of western Connecticut, between the Housatonic River and the New York state line (Klemens, 1993). Single specimens have been reported from sites east of the Housatonic River, but there is no evidence that these animals represented populations. Bog turtles are secretive, inhabiting specialized subclimax open canopy areas within large, dynamic wetland systems. Within these dynamic systems, patches of wetlands are opened up by beaver, fire, and browsing. Once habitats are fragmented, many of these ecosystem-scale processes are disrupted, and bog turtle habitats are lost through canopy closure. Bog turtles are near their northeastern range limit in Connecticut and have suffered greatly from habitat loss, alteration, and degradation (including invasive plants), as well as collection. Although bog turtles inhabit small, highly specialized wetland patches, those areas are dependent upon a much larger wetland landscape. Populations of this species are confirmed from five towns, two in Litchfield County and three in Fairfield County. Craig's (1979) figure of nine towns included single specimens and verbal reports not accepted as representative of populations by Klemens and Warner (1983). The remaining populations of bog turtles in northwestern Connecticut are small, with limited viability. Unless aggressive actions are taken within the next decade, the bog turtle could be the first reptile to become extinct in Connecticut (Klemens, 1998b). The bog turtle is listed as an "Endangered Species" in the state and capture is prohibited (Conn. Code Sec. 26-66-14-A). Bog turtles are also listed as "Threatened" under the provisions of the Federal Endangered Species Act, which protects both the turtle and its habitat. International commerce in this species is strictly prohibited by CITES.

Turtles | Amphibians and Reptiles in Connecticut