A relatively large turtle with a brown carapace with yellow or orange streaks or highlights, and a yellow plastron with black markings on each scute. The skin of the neck and limbs is orange, brighter in spring and autumn. Adults measure 5.5 to 7.5 inches (14 to 19 cm) in total length. An older common name for this turtle was “red legs.”
Mating occurs before and after hibernation. Nesting in late May to early June. Clutches of 4 to 12 eggs are laid in shallow nests. The eggs hatch in 60 to 70 days. Adults do not reproduce until the age of at least 11 or 12.
Woodland or open field habitats in flood plains. Hibernates in streams, either wedged in root tangles, under overhanging banks, or sitting on the bottom in low flow areas.
Feeds on a wide variety of foods, including algae, moss, leaves, berries, insects, slugs and other mollusks, earthworms, tadpoles, crayfish and carrion. Young in captivity have been observed eating terrestrial isopods.
Found in eastern North America from Nova Scotia south to northern Virginia; westward to northern Michigan (appears to be absent from Ohio). Its range includes all New England states. Within Connecticut it is known from several sites, mostly in the eastern portions of the state.
Not federally protected, but protected from international trade by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). A species of special concern in Connecticut. Possession is prohibited without permits. Protected in most northeastern states. In decline from habitat loss, nest predation, collection and road mortality.
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. 1993a. Amphibians and Reptiles of Connecticut and Adjacent Regions. Hartford, CT: State Geological and Natural History Survey of Connecticut Bulletin 112. 318 pp.
——1993b. Amphibians and Reptiles in Connecticut. Hartford, CT: State Geological and Natural History Survey of Connecticut Bulletin 32. 96 pp.
Tyning, Thomas F., editor, 1997. Status and Conservation of Turtles of the Northeastern United States. Lanesboro, MN: Serpent’s Tale Publishers. 53 pp.
Text by Richard Haley and Gregory J. Watkins-Colwell.
Photographs © Twan Leenders. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Animal featured in photographs on this page is from Connecticut.