Bog Turtle Facts

The bog turtle, glyptemys muhlenbergii, is one of the smallest turtles in the world. They measure 3.5 to 4.5 inches (8.9 to 11.4 centimeters) and weigh around 113.4 grams (4 ounces), with males being slightly longer than females. The upper shell (called the carapace) is black to light-brown in color while the one underneath (called the plastron) is black to dark-brown with a few light markings. The plastron of males is concave while females have a wider, dome-shaped shell. Males also have longer, thicker tails than those found on females. Both genders, however, have brown skin with red, orange or yellow spots speckled around.

The bog turtle can be found on in the United States (more specifically, the eastern United States). They will inhabit marshy areas such as swamps, marshy meadows, sphagnum bogs and slow-moving streams. Their range includes habitats found anywhere from sea level to over 3,937 feet (1,200 meters) high. The bog turtle (like most reptiles) is active during the warmer parts of the day, although seldom during the hottest part. They emerge from their shelters in the morning and bask in the sun before setting out to look for food. Come October, this animal will retreat into a dense, vegetated area in order to hibernate. They will rest in soft mud that is often located just under a frozen surface and remain there until late March or early April.

The diet of a bog turtle consists primarily of insects (millipedes, beetles, ants, dragonflies and the like). They will, however, also eat a variety of other plants and animals such as berries, seeds, spiders, slugs, snails, earthworms, nesting birds, mice, and even voles. This varied diet means that the bog turtle will forage both on land and underwater. Whenever they feel alarmed, they will quickly dig a burrow in the muddy ground and hide until the danger has passed.

Mating for the bog turtle takes place from March until June. A male will search for and identify a female using its senses of sight and smell. He will circle the female, probing her tail and cloaca with his nose and maybe biting at her head and neck. The female may move away, resulting in a chase in which the male will try and catch the female by biting her legs and head. He will then mount her (which is accompanied by more biting of the head and neck) and mate with her (which can take 5 to 20 minutes). The female will lay 1 to 6 eggs in June and July and they will hatch in August or September. Most of the hatchlings will emerge from the nest right away, while others will remain inside over the winter. They are completely independent from the day they hatch and face danger in the form of numerous birds and mammals (including foxes, raccoons and opossum). If the little ones can survive long enough, then they can live to be anywhere from 30 to 40 years old.

The bog turtle is a critically endangered species. They face numerous threats, with the biggest being the loss of its natural habitat. Even though the animal itself is legally protected, its habitat is not and therefore makes repopulation difficult. Hopefully, something can be done soon to help the bog turtle bounce back from its dangerous position. After all, such a unique reptile deserves to live and prosper for future generations to see.

Works Cited

“Bog Turtle Fact Sheet” 2 January 2012

“Bog Turtle (Glyptemys Muhlenbergii)” 2 January 2012

“Bog Turtle” 2 January 2012

“Bog Turtle” 2 January 2012

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