The Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata) is one of the smaller turtles found throughout Virginia’s coastal plain. These turtles rarely exceed a carapace length of five inches, and are easily distinguished by their black shells with yellow or orange spots. The spots continue onto the head and limbs also. The spotted turtle prefers shallow freshwater bodies of water where it spends its days preying on snails, worms, crayfish and fish.
Unlike most aquatic turtles, Spotted Turtles are more commonly found during the spring and even during warmer winter periods. After an early mating season, females begin to nest in the early spring or late summer. Emerging at night, females will excavate a shallow nest in the soil and deposit an average of three to four eggs. Between two and three months later, the one inch babies hatch. Though the babies may have very few spots, they become more patterned and colorful as they age.
Although the Spotted Turtle is not listed as endangered or threatened in Virginia, it receives special protection under the law. It is illegal to collect and possess Spotted Turtles without receiving special permits from the state. Like many other species, habitat loss, wetland degradation and pollution have seriously impacted Spotted Turtle populations.
Spotted Turtle information from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries