Spotted Turtle

ORDER: Chelonia

FAMILY: Emydidae

GENUS: Clemmys

SPECIES: guttata

Small (usually 4 inches, maximum 5 inches) blue-black turtle with round yellow spots on a broad, smooth, keelless carapace. Plastron is yellow or slightly orange with large black blotches. The head is moderate in size with a non-projecting snout and a notched upper jaw. Head is black and other skin is gray or black with the occasional yellow spot or band. Males have tan chins, brown eyes, slightly concave plastron, and long thick tails. Females have yellow chins, orange eyes and a flat or convex plastron.

Southern Ontario and Maine south to northern Florida and west to Michigan and northeastern Illinois. Equally at home on land or water. Most frequently found in bogs and marshy pastures, but also occurs in small woodland streams.

Omnivorous. Aquatic and terrestrial insects, worms and other invertebrates and aquatic plants.

Mating begins in March and continues into May. Copulation is usually underwater, but may occur on land. Nesting occurs from late May to July. Two to eight elliptical white eggs with flexible shells are laid in a flask shaped nest in well-drained soil or they are deposited on grass tussocks, hummocks and sphagnum moss of the wetland. Only one or two clutches are laid each year. Incubation period is 70-83 days. Sex is dependent on incubation temperatures with mostly females at the higher temperatures. Hatchlings generally emerge from the nest in the autumn, but may occasionally overwinter in the nest. During a warm summer, these turtles estivate in the mud bottom of waterways or in muskrat burrows and during the cold winter they hibernate in similar sites.

These are primarily aquatic turtles and thus have a low arched, smooth surfaced shell and webbed feet.

The spots on the carapace are transparent areas in the sautes overlying patches of yellow pigment; they may fade with age and some old individuals are spotless.

The Spotted Turtle can be found in the RAD Room in the Wayne and Gladys Valley Children's Zoo.

Listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. It is protected by state and local laws throughout its range, but the regulations aren't strictly enforced and entire populations are often collected for the pet trade.


  1. Ernst, Carl and Barbour, Roger. 1989. Turtles of the World, Smithsonian Press.
  2. Hutchins, Michael. Grzimek