What Rare Ontario Turtle has Large Black Blobs on a Yellow Shell on the Underside?

Photo of Blandings Turtle 2011 08 14 near Sharbot Lake Ontario on Natural Crooks Dot ComMany people living in Ontario can recognize a Painted Turtle when they see it. They have rather shiny black backs when they pile up on logs to sun. The yellow and red markings on the neck and face are also pretty obvious. But some of the other Ontario turtles are not quite so easy to identify. They may be more rare or more shy and so we don’t see them as much. One, in particular, has a pretty colourful underside. The plastron is yellow with large black blobs like ink splots on it. But what is it?

The top, or carapace, of this turtle may have faint yellow markings as well. If the turtle is clean, it usually has a vivid yellow throat that includes under the jaw. (I’ve seen ones, though, where the algae and mud on the turtle make this much less obvious than you’d expect.) It can grow fairly large, up to about 27 cm in length, according to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.

So what is it?
The Blanding’s Turtle.

Photo of Blandings Turtle C 2011 08 14 near Sharbot Lake Ontario on NaturalCrooksDotComBlanding’s Turtles are listed as a Threatened species by the MNR in Ontario. According to the MNR, they are particularly at risk because they don’t start reproducing (laying eggs) until they are about 20 years old or more. They also travel great distances across land from one marshy area to another. These walks often cross roads where they can be killed by vehicles.

We often find a large Blanding’s Turtle when vacationing in Eastern Ontario near Sharbot Lake. When we do, we take a few photos but quickly release it back in the same place. (Well, if it was crossing a road we release it on the side it was heading towards!)

Photo of Blandings Turtle B 2011 08 14 near Sharbot Lake Ontario on NaturalCrooksDotComAccording to the MNR, Blanding’s Turtles eat aquatic insects, crustaceans, molluscs and vegetation. So I guess that might include the snails and clams that are common in the lakes around Sharbot Lake. The Ontario Nature site says that they also eat crayfish, frogs and fish. Those are also all plentiful in the area where we meet Blanding’s.

If you find one of these curiously beautiful reptiles, please handle it as little as possible and release it about where you found it, providing it will be safe there.

And then, if you can, send in a report to Turtle Tally. The more reports Turtle Tally receives the clearer picture they can develop of where the turtles of Ontario are and how they are doing.

Join In
Have you found a Blanding’s when it’s on walk-about? Please share your experiences with a comment.

2 thoughts on “What Rare Ontario Turtle has Large Black Blobs on a Yellow Shell on the Underside?

  1. I found one of these in Lee NH USA as it was crossing the highway and a sure death… Brought him home… many large marsh areas and not many cars

    • I’m glad you got to see one of these turtles and were able to rescue it. The Turtle Tally people do prefer it if a turtle is released across the highway where it was trying to get to, as it is possible that like salmon they return to the same places to lay their eggs each year and that they may not be able to find a mate in a new location. I’m not an expert though so I don’t know if your turtle would be better off dodging cars or not. Either way, I’m glad you rescued it!

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