Blanding's turtle

Latin Name
Emydoidea blandingii




A medium-sized turtle, the Blanding's turtle has a shell that can reach 11 inches in length. The shells are smooth and black or grey in color; some shells display white or yellow dots. The species has a rounded head with a yellow throat.



The Blanding's turtle is found from Canada down to Minnesota and central Illinois. Some populations exist along the northeastern United States as well.


The Blanding's turtle is identified as near-threatened by conservation authorities. The species is endangered in Illinois due to habitat loss. Lincoln Park Zoo is partnering with other conservation programs to help the species recover.


This semi-aquatic species is found in ponds, marshes and swamps. They prefer shallow, slow-moving water and a muddy, vegetation-rich bottom.


Blanding’s turtles prey on crustaceans, insects, frogs and fish that they find in the water. They use their long neck and jaws to capture prey. When ponds dry or freeze during winter, the turtles can enter a state of lower metabolic activity, burrowing beneath the ground or waiting beneath the pond ice until spring.

Life History

After breeding, female Blanding's turtles bury their eggs in drained soil some distance from the water. Hatchlings emerge after 50-75 days of incubation. The sex of hatchlings is temperature dependent: eggs that incubate at temperatures below 77 F are nearly all male while those above 86 F are nearly all female. Hatchlings are vulnerable to predators such as raccoons and skunks—as well as cars—as they return to the water.

Special Adaptations

Shells have a hinge near the front entrance, enabling them to close tightly for protection against predators.

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