The bog turtle is New England’s smallest turtle, averaging 3 to 3.5 inches (7.6 to 8.9 cm) in length. It is identified by a brown, lightly sculpted carapace and a bright orange blotch on each side of the head. The plastron is variable in color, with contrasting light and dark areas.
This turtle usually nests in early summer, and lays 3 to 5 eggs. Hatching occurs in early fall.
Found in sphagnum bogs, swamps and clear, slow moving streams with muddy bottoms. In Connecticut bog turtles are restricted to calcareous wet meadows and fens that are often bordered by shrub and red maple swamps.
Bog turtles feed mostly on invertebrates, including insects and worms.
Found in distinct colonies from New York to western North Carolina to extreme northern Georgia. In Connecticut, they are restricted to calcareous wetlands in the far western part of the state.
Federally endangered and considered an endangered species under Connecticut state law.
Bog turtles are endangered in Connecticut for several reasons, but habitat loss is a large factor. This species prefers wet meadows that cover limestone, a habitat that is restricted to the far western portion of the state and is often developed. Also, succession that replaces meadows with red maples can change its habitat.
Conant, R. and J.T. Collins. 1991. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern/Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 450 pp.
Klemens, M.W. 1993. Amphibians and Reptiles of Connecticut and Adjacent Regions. Hartford, CT: State Geological and Natural History Survey of Connecticut Bulletin 112. 318 pp.
Text by James Sirch.
Photograph © Suzanne L. Collins. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Animal featured in photographs on this page is from Georgia.