Discover Maryland's Herps

Field Guide to Maryland's Turtles (Order Testudines)

Family Emydidae

Spotted Turtle
Clemmys guttata

Photo of Spotted Turtle courtesy of Tony Prochaska.
Photo of Spotted Turtle courtesy of Tony Prochaska.

Size

3 - 4 inches. Record - 5 inches.

Appearance

  • Diagnostic feature is a variable number of yellow or orange spots on a black carapace (top shell).

  • Spots may be lacking or very faded on some individuals.

  • The carapace is smooth, keel-less, broad and slightly domed.

  • Males have brown eyes, while females eyes are orange.

  • Photo of Spotted Turtle courtesy of Scott A. Smith.
    Photo of Spotted Turtle courtesy of Scott A. Smith.

    Habitats

    A wide variety of shallow wetlands are used including wet meadows, freshwater marshes, bogs, swamps, small ponds, ditches, small woodland streams, Delmarva Bays and tidally influenced brackish streams. All typically have a soft substrate and some aquatic or emergent vegetation. They also seasonally spend time away from water, typically in woodlands, pastures and fields.

    How to Find

    Search shallow wetland edges during the day, particularly those dominated by herbaceous vegetation. Look for basking individuals in the morning. Easiest to find mid-April through June, though active until October.

    Photo of Habitat for Spotted Turtle courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers.
    Photo of Habitat for Spotted Turtle
    courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers.

    Distribution in Maryland

    Found throughout Maryland.

    Maryland Distribution Map for Spotted Turtle

    FaceBook Icon

    Maryland Amphibian
    and Reptile Atlas Project

    "A Joint Project of the Natural History Society of Maryland, Inc. and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources"

    For monthly newsletters of the Maryland Amphibian & Reptile Atlas Project click on Recent Newsletters and scroll down to the MARA Newsletters.

    The Maryland Herpetology Field Guide is a cooperative effort of the MD Natural Heritage Program and the MD Biological Stream Survey within the Department of Natural Resources and their partners. We wish to thank all who contributed field records, text, and photographs, as well as support throughout its development.