Turtles are one of the most fascinating reptiles on the planet and Ontario is lucky to have a wide variety of them living within its borders. From river cooters to wood turtles, Ontario is home to some of the most unique and beautiful turtles in the world.
There are seven distinct types of turtles in Ontario. However, the most common five types include the Blanding’s turtle, the Eastern box turtle, the Northern map turtle, the Spotted turtle, and the Wood turtle.
5 Types Of Turtles In Ontario
1. Eastern Box Turtle
The Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) is a species of turtle native to the eastern United States and Canada. It is one of the most common five types of turtles in Ontario. It is the only box turtle species found in Ontario and is one of the most common turtles in the province.
The Eastern Box Turtle is a medium-sized turtle, reaching sizes of up to 8 inches in length. They have a domed carapace (shell) with bright yellow or orange markings occurring on a dark background. The plastron (underbelly) is usually yellow or orange with black markings. The head and limbs are usually a light brown colour.
The Eastern Box Turtle is primarily terrestrial, but it will often enter the water to drink or escape predators. They are omnivorous, eating both plants and animals. Their diet consists of a variety of insects, worms, snails, slugs, berries, and mushrooms.
In Ontario, the Eastern Box Turtle is found in deciduous forests, grasslands, and wet meadows. They prefer habitats with moist leaf litter and plenty of hiding spots. During the summer months, they can be found basking in the sun.
The Eastern Box Turtle is a long-lived species, with some individuals reaching ages of over 100 years. They reproduce by laying eggs in the spring, with females typically laying two to five eggs. The eggs hatch after 2-3 months and the young turtles are independent of birth.
The Eastern Box Turtle is listed as a species of special concern in Ontario, due to habitat destruction and illegal collecting. To help protect this species, it is illegal to capture or possess a wild Eastern Box Turtle in Ontario.
2. Spotted Turtle
The Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata) is a small species of turtle native to the eastern and central United States and southeastern Canada, including Ontario. It is one of the most popular turtles kept in captivity and is a species of special concern in Ontario.
Spotted Turtles have a distinctive look with their bright yellow or orange spots that are scattered over their black carapace, or upper shell. The plastron, or lower shell, is yellow with some black spots. Adults reach a maximum length of about 6 inches (15 cm).
In Ontario, the Spotted Turtle is found in a variety of habitats, including wetlands, bogs, swamps, marshes, and wet meadows. They are most active during the day and spend much of their time basking in the sun. They are omnivorous, feeding on snails, clams, frogs, insects, carrion, and vegetation.
The Spotted Turtle is a long-lived species, with individuals known to live more than 50 years in the wild. Females become sexually mature at around 8 years old, and males at around 6 years old. Breeding occurs from April to July, and females will lay between 2 and 12 eggs in sandy soils near water.
In Ontario, the Spotted Turtle is listed as a species at risk, and it is illegal to collect, possess, buy, or sell this species without a permit. It is also important to protect wetland habitats from development and pollution, as this will help to ensure the long-term survival of the species in Ontario.
3. Wood Turtle
The Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) is a species of turtle native to North America, found throughout much of the northeastern and midwestern United States, and in southeastern Canada. In Ontario, the Wood Turtle is considered to be a Species at Risk, and its status is protected under the Species at Risk Act.
The Wood Turtle is a medium-sized turtle, with adults reaching up to 25 cm in length. It has a domed carapace (upper shell) with yellow or orange markings, while its plastron (lower shell) is yellow or orange with dark blotches. Its head is dark with yellow or orange stripes, and its legs are patterned with yellow or orange spots.
Unlike most other turtle species, the Wood Turtle is an active diurnal species, meaning that it is more active during the day than at night. Its diet consists of plants, insects, worms, and other invertebrates. It can also survive for long periods without food or water.
In Ontario, the Wood Turtle is found in scattered regions east of Lake Huron and north of Lake Erie, as well as along the St. Lawrence River and its tributaries. Its habitat includes deciduous and mixed forests, meadows, wetlands, and grasslands. It is usually found near permanent bodies of water, such as ponds and streams, as these provide a reliable source of food, water, and shelter.
The Wood Turtle is threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, as well as illegal collection and mortality due to road mortality. To help protect this species, the Ontario government has established a recovery strategy that includes habitat protection, research and monitoring, and public education.
4. Blanding’s Turtle
Blanding’s Turtle is a medium-sized aquatic turtle native to North America and is found in Ontario, Canada. It is a species of special concern in Ontario due to its declining population. The adult Blanding’s Turtle can reach up to 20 cm in carapace length and can weigh up to 1kg. They have a bright yellow chin, throat, and neck, and the carapace is olive or dark brown with a yellow or orange pattern of lines and spots.
Blanding’s Turtles spend most of their life in the water, but they do move onto land to lay eggs in June and July. They prefer shallow, vegetated wetlands with abundant aquatic vegetation, such as marshes and ponds, and are typically found in areas with sandy or muddy bottoms.
Blanding’s Turtles have a very long lifespan and can live up to 70 years in the wild. However, due to the threats posed by habitat loss, road mortality, and other human activities, their population is in decline. This is why they are a species of special concern in Ontario and are protected under the Ontario Endangered Species Act, 2007.
To help protect Blanding’s Turtles, it is important to reduce the threats they face. This includes reducing habitat loss, creating safe crossing areas for turtles to move between bodies of water, and avoiding activities that can disturb their habitat. It is also important to reduce the amount of garbage in their habitats and to be aware of their presence when you are near their habitats.
5. Northern Map Turtle
The Northern Map Turtle is one of the most recognizable five types of turtles in Ontario. It is found in all of Ontario’s major river systems, including the Great Lakes. Northern Map Turtles are a medium-sized species, with males growing to a maximum of 6 inches in length, and females reaching up to 9 inches in length.
They are characterized by their high-domed, keeled shells, with a distinct yellow pattern of lines and dots that extends from the neck to the base of the tail.
Northern Map Turtles are semi-aquatic and spend most of their time in shallow, slow-moving water. They are omnivorous and feed on a variety of aquatic invertebrates, fish, and plants. They can often be seen basking on logs near the water’s edge.
Northern Map Turtles are considered a threatened species in Ontario, and they are protected under provincial law. The threats to the species include habitat loss, pollution, and predation by introduced species.
To protect the Northern Map Turtle and its habitat, it is important to minimize the impacts of activities such as shoreline development, agriculture, and water recreational activities. It is also important to protect areas where the turtles can bask, such as logs and rocks. Finally, it is important to educate the public on the importance of protecting these turtles and their habitats.
Each Turtle species has its unique characteristics and habitats. Blanding’s turtles, for example, have a yellow throat and are found mainly in the southern parts of Ontario. Eastern box turtles are found in the Great Lakes region and have dark green shells with bright red markings.
The Northern map turtle is a large species of turtle and is found mainly in the northern parts of Ontario. The Spotted turtle is small and has yellow spots on its shell, while the Wood turtle is a medium-sized species that is found in wetlands throughout the province.
Turtles are an important part of Ontario’s natural heritage and play an important role in the province’s ecosystem. By learning more about the common five types of turtles in Ontario, we can better appreciate their uniqueness and help protect them from harm. With a little bit of knowledge and understanding, we can ensure that these amazing creatures remain a part of Ontario’s landscape for generations to come.