Wild Profile: Meet the spotted turtle

Published: April 30, 2019

By Jay Ondreicka/Shutterstock

If you’re ever going to see these semi-aquatic, speckled turtles, spring is the most likely season. For a slow-moving critter, it’s an active time. Spotted turtles are more cold-tolerant than other turtles, and, in cottage country, emerge from their winter hibernacula as soon as the ice melts. Sadly—like many amphibians—the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) has listed them as being in serious trouble.

By May, the small turtles—they’re about the size of a CD—have made the journey to breeding pools up to 100 metres away. Want to tell the difference between males and females? Eye colour is a big hint: adult males have brown eyes, and females have orange eyes.

In June, Ma turtle digs a hole in sandy soil or under leaf litter for her eggs. Hatchlings are born two to three months later. They’ll face a host of threats: poaching, wetland destruction, water pollution, predators, and road mortality. If they manage to survive, spotted turtles can live for 50 years or more. That’s decent, but short in turtle timelines. Snapping turtles can live to 100, and even Blanding’s turtles can reach age 70.

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