X marks the spot
If you see a spotted turtle, count its spots. They provide some clues to the turtle’s upbringing.
AGE: Turtles tend to add spots as they get older. They usually are born with just one spot on each side of their shell; they then can develop as many as 100 as they age.
HOME: Turtles from northern areas like Canada, the Great Lakes or New England, tend to have more spots than ones from the Mid-Atlantic or more southern regions.
BOY OR GIRL: Females generally have more spots than males.
No two turtles ever have the same pattern of spots, which are yellow to orange in color and develop on the turtle’s dark upper shell, head and limbs.
These spots are the defining characteristic for one of the smallest, but also most common, turtles found in North America. They are native to wet, marshy areas surrounding the Eastern Great Lakes of Canada and the United States, and Atlantic coastal regions reaching from Maine south to Florida.
They are most easily found in the spring and fall, as they tend to stay nested and hidden during the extreme cold of winter and extreme heat of summer. Their waking time consists almost exclusively of eating or basking in the sun on rocks or logs.
A few other facts about the spotted turtle:
While turtles from southern states generally have fewer spots, their spots also are smaller than those from northern climates.
Males and females usually can be easily told apart by looking at tails: The male’s is much longer. Females also have orange eyes, compared to more brownish for males.
Spotted turtles in the wild generally eat insects, worms, snails and small fish, but those in captivity have been found to enjoy many other foods, including some fruits.
Turtles live in pond bottoms, burrowing into them at night.