Pet Health And Care >>  Turtle >>  Turtle species >>  Spotted Turtle  
Spotted Turtle

Spotted Turtle - Information On The Facts, Habitat, Care and Diet For Spotted Turtles

Scientifically termed Clemmys guttata, the spotted turtle is a small freshwater turtle.

The species, though often confused with the Blanding’s turtle, can be distinguished by the irregular, yellow spots on its black carapace (upper portion of the shell).

Spotted Turtle: About

As mentioned, the spotted turtle is small, measuring about three to five inches in length. Its most distinctive feature is the bright yellow colored spots that can be found in its black carapace. These spots can be found on its head, neck, and legs as well. It has been observed that the number of spots changes with age and can reach up to a 100. Baby spotted turtles only have one spot on each portion of the shell, while sometimes you may find an adult with no spots at all.

The lower shell (plastron) is typically black, but may also be yellow at times.

In terms of difference between genders, males have dark pigmentation around their mouths, while females have yellow coloring in those areas.

Spotted Turtle: Facts

Here are some interesting facts about spotted turtles:

• Spotted turtles are considered an endangered species, and it is listed under the provincial Endangered Species Act, 2007.

• They are also called “polka dot” turtles, owing to their coloring.

• Spotted turtles produce a very small clutch of eggs.

• Although they are protected under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act (Ontario), where harming, possessing, killing, and trading is prohibited, they are unfortunately vastly subjected to illegal trade (as pets).

• Spotted turtles can co-exist peacefully with wood turtles and bog turtles.

Spotted Turtle: Habitat

Found in eastern North America in Maine, Ontario, Florida, and Michigan, spotted turtles are primarily concentrated in southern Ontario. In terms of aquatic habitat, spotted turtles can be found in marshes and bogs as well as ponds and shallow water bodies that have an abundant supply of all kinds of aquatic vegetation.

While baby turtles prefer to stay in water or close to water, adults choose to seek wet land such as swamps and ditches. Also, spotted turtles prefer still water as opposed to streams and rivulets.

Spotted Turtle: Information

Spotted turtles are mostly active during the months of March to October. In March, they emerge after hibernation and collect at ponds for mating. The breeding season lasts from March to May. During this season, spotted turtles can be found in large numbers near ponds and are susceptible to poachers for illegal trading.

Once the breeding season is over, the females start to look for good nesting sites. Meadows, wooded areas, and open fields are often chosen as nesting sites, and three to four eggs are laid in the soil or leaf litter. While most turtles cover the ditch once they’ve laid the eggs, female spotted turtles actually make an effort to camouflage the nest.

Baby spotted turtles are born within 11 weeks and are only about an inch in length. The average lifespan of these turtles is 25 years, and sexual maturity is reach around 8 to 10 years.

Spotted Turtle: Care

Caring for spotted turtles in captivity requires that they are provided with an environment that replicates their natural habitat as closely as possible. Their diet also needs to be as close as possible to their natural one.

Habitat: The ideal habitat should be 50 percent water and 50 percent land. The captive area should include rocks, dirt, and drift wood, as these turtles like to bask. The designated basking area should also have a UVB lighting facility. Keep in mind that they are not great swimmers, so the water depth should not be more than six inches. The recommended size of the enclosure or tank is about 55 gallons. The substrate in the water area should include sand, gravel, and rocks.

Feeding: The diet should be as alike to the species’ natural diet as is possible. While baby spotted turtles will eat almost anything, adults prefer snails, worms, crickets and other insects as well aquatic vegetation and some vegetables.

Spotted Turtle: Diet

Spotted turtles are omnivores, and in the wild, they will eat anything from snails, slugs, worms, insects, insect larvae, and spiders to tadpoles, fish, bird eggs, aquatic plants such as various grasses and filamentous green algae.


J. P. Gibbs. The Amphibians And Reptiles of New York State: Identification, Natural History, And Conservation, Oxford University Press, 2007.

  Submitted on May 9, 2012  

Explore Pet Categories