Sometimes confused with box turtles, the Blanding’s turtle is recognizable by the bright yellow on its chin and throat and the light dots across its high-domed shell. Medium-sized, it averages 5-7 inch in length. The Blanding’s turtle is mostly aquatic, dwelling in relatively quiet waters of bogs, marshes, small streams, sedge meadows and in the shallow portions of lakes from Nebraska to Nova Scotia, though populations east of Ohio are discontinuous. The turtle is named for William Blanding, an early naturalist in Pennsylvania, where is it now ironically extirpated.
Blanding’s turtles are mostly carnivorous, preferring snails, insects, tadpoles, frogs and crayfish, often feeding underwater. Females travel overland to nesting sites, laying a clutch of about 12 eggs that incubate 45-80 days, depending on nest moisture and temperature. As with other turtles, nest temperature determines sex. Females become sexually mature around 18 years, males around 12 years. Hatchling survival rates are low, though those that do survive may live as long as 77 years. A shy animal, the Blanding’s turtle will dive and remain submerged for hours if startled and will abandon disturbed nests.
The turtles are particularly vulnerable to automobile fatalities, usually as they travel overland between hibernation and nesting sites. As with many other wetland species, habitat destruction is their main threat. They also face predation by raccoons, skunks and foxes.March 03, 2011