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Bog turtle

Scientific name: Glyptemys muhlenbergii

Bog turtle, perhaps the most endangered turtle in the U.S., was common in Lewisboro in the 1970’s until wetlands were either filled in or polluted with stormwater. While some turtles have fallen prey to the illicit pet trade, the biggest blow has been habitat loss or fragmentation as a result of development. In 1997, the northern population of the bog turtle was listed as Threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Endangered Species Act.

Bright orange blotches on both sides of the head and neck are the most distinctive features of this species.

It is the smallest of the turtles, rarely exceeding four inches in length and also the most rare.

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It is an opportunistic feeder, eating what it can get, although it prefers invertebrates such as slugs, worms, and insects. Seeds, plant leaves, and carrion are also included in its diet.


Like the common name suggests, the typical habitat of this turtle consists of bogs, swamps and shallow marshes.

Life Cycle

In New York, the bog turtle emerges from hibernation by mid-April. Bog turtles often hibernate communally with other bog turtles and with spotted turtles (Clemmys guttata). Generally both the air and water temperature must exceed 50⁰F for the turtle to become active. Mating occurs primarily in the spring but may also occur in the fall and may be focused in or near the winter shelter. In early to mid-June, a clutch of two to four eggs is laid in a nest which is generally located inside the upper part of an unshaded tussock. The eggs hatch around mid-September. Some young turtles spend the winter in the nest, emerging the following spring. The adults enter hibernation in late October. Sexual maturity may be reached at eight years or as late as eleven. A bog turtle may live for more than 30 years.

Ecosystem Connections

Non-native plants such as purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) and reed (Phragmites australis) can quickly invade areas near wetlands, resulting in the loss of basking and nesting habitat.

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