Blanding’s Turtle: Threatened

Found nesting in newly created butterfly habitat in 2003, the Preserve & Park is one of only three locations it can be found in New York State, where is is listed as threatened.

Description

Blanding's turtle. Photo credit: Ryan Von Linden

The Blanding’s turtle averages 7” to 9” in length (shell) and is easily recognized by its bright yellow throat.  The domed upper shell (carapace) is dark and densely marked with yellow speckles or streaks.  The under shell (plastron) is yellow with symmetrical black patches along its edges.  The head and legs are dark with some yellow markings.  The plastron is hinged, enabling the plastral lobes to move upward towards the carapace.

Life Cycle

After a winter’s hibernation, mating occurs in April and early May with nesting in June.  The female seeks an open sandy area in which to dig her nest and lay her eggs.  In New York, clutch size ranges from 5-12 eggs with an average of 8.  After covering the nest with sand, the female returns to her preferred wetland.

Additional Information

The Blanding’s turtle is the slowest maturing vertebrate in North America, taking 18 to 20 years to reach sexual maturity.  Once mature, it can reproduce for the rest of its long life, between 75 and 80 years.  The Blanding’s turtle is primarily an aquatic turtle and is known to travel relatively significant distances over ground.  It overwinters under or near water, in mud, or under a protective vegetative layer.  There are recorded incidents of the Blanding’s turtle nesting in Karner blue butterfly habitat restoration areas.