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Canadian Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Network - Réseau Canadien de 
Conservation des Amphibiens et des Reptiles

Emydoidea blandingii
Blanding's Turtle / Tortue Mouchetée


Blanding's Turtle

Description
Blanding's Turtles have an elongated smooth black carapace with irregular tan or yellow markings. These markings may be absent or fade in some individuals. The chin and throat are bright yellow. The plastron is hinged and either yellow with a large dark blotch in the corner of each scute or almost entirely black. Adults reach up to 28 cm carapace length.

Confusing Species
No other Canadian species has the bright yellow chin and throat. Northern Map Turtles have yellowing marking on the carapace but also have yellow lines on the neck and legs and the rear of their carapace is serrated. Spotted Turtles have distinct yellow spots rather than irregular markings.

Distribution
In Canada, Blanding's Turtles are found in southern Ontario and a few localities in western Québec. There is a disjunct population in Nova Scotia. Blanding's Turtle is limited mainly to the Great Lakes region of the United States as far west as Nebraska. There are disjunct populations along the Atlantic coast as far south as New York.

Habitat
Blanding's Turtles live in highly productive lakes, ponds and wetlands with clean shallow water and mucky bottoms.

Reproduction
Females do not mature until at least age 14. Nesting occurs in late May to early June and up to 22 eggs are laid in a single clutch. Nests are dug in areas of well drained sandy loam or sand. Hatchlings emerge in the fall at 3-4 cm in length. The gender of offspring depends on the incubation temperature of the eggs.

Natural history
Blanding's Turtles are fond of basking, particularly in the spring. Crayfish are a favourite food but insects, fish, frogs and plants are also eaten. When disturbed, Blanding's Turtles can pull in and move the lobes of their plastron to close the shell. The pattern on the carapace appears to imitate Duckweed, thus providing camouflage for the turtle. Blanding's Turtles commonly live more than 25 years and possibly over 70 years.

Conservation Concerns
Blanding's Turtles are vulnerable to traffic mortality and high nest predation. Blanding's Turtle is designated Threatened in Ontario and Québec (Great Lakes/St. Lawrence population) and Endangered in Nova Scotia by COSEWIC