Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Common Turtle Species

Turtles are cold-blooded reptiles. They have a shell making
them unique from other reptiles. Their upper shell is called
the carapace, and a lower shell that protects the belly called
the plastron. The carapace and plastron shape and color varies
from species to species. One might think it would at least
always be a hard shell, which also is untrue. There are
softshell turtle species, along with many others.

Some turtle species include Clemmys insculpta which is the wood
turtle; Geochelone sulcata which is the African Spurred
tortoise; Chelonia mydas which is the green turtle; Emydoidea
blandingii which is the Blanding?s turtle; Clemmys guttata
which is the spotted turtle; Malaclemys terrapin which is the
diamondback terrapin; and Trachemys s. elegans which is the
red-eared slider.

The species name for the wood turtle is Clemmys insculpta. This
turtle is the largest in its genus. The carapace has raised
projections on the back that resemble a small pyramid, making
it different from others in the Clemmys genus.

The wood turtle is omnivorous and eats things like algae, moss,
blueberries, mollusks, insects, earthworms, and mice. Typically
adult males are larger than adult females, but not by a whole

The species name for the African Spurred tortoise is Geochelone
sulcata. The African Spurred Tortoise is the only tortoise in
the world that has adapted fully for terrestrial life. The
turtle is famous for digging burrows to protect itself from
predators and the temperature. This turtle can go weeks without
food or water. When the turtle does get a chance to drink water
though, it can drink up to 15% of its body weight.

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The species name for the green turtle is Chelonia mydas. Adult
green turtles have a different diet than juvenile green
turtles. Adults are herbivores eating plants and juveniles are
carnivores eating meat. Adults usually spend their time in
patches of sea grass and algae to get their food, while
juveniles spend their time among the coral reef. Adults
preferred food is young leaves and roots of sea vegetation.
Juveniles eat animals such as jellyfish, sponges, snails,
bivalves, and others.

This turtle is a medium to large sea turtle that has a broad,
low, heart-shaped carapace.

Most of their lives are spent in the water but females return
to the land to lay their eggs. The eggs take about two months
to incubate, and then hatch. As most turtles are, green turtles
possess environmental sex determination. Temperature of the nest
determines the sex of the hatchling. Warmer temperatures produce
females, and cooler temperatures produce males.

Green turtles are found throughout the oceans of the world.
Populations are endangered or threatened everywhere.

The Blanding?s turtle is a northern turtle that has a black
carapace with tan to yellow spots on the scutes. Its species
name is Emydoidea blandingii. Sometimes this turtle is confused
with the box turtle because of similar appearances.
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This turtle lives in clean, shallow water habitats. They like
abundant aquatic vegetation, and firm aquatic bottoms in ponds,
lakes, marshes, and creeks. However, preferences in habitat can
change seasonally and by location. In Wisconsin, the Blanding?s
turtle prefers marshes over ponds, which is just a location
preference. Turtles elsewhere may choose a pond over a marsh.

This turtle nests once a year usually from late-May to early
July during the night. However, not every female nests every

The common name for Clemmys guttata is the spotted turtle. This
is a small, black turtle that has a pattern on its smooth
carapace with small yellow spots. Over time the spots may fade,
making older turtles appear spotless.

Male spotted turtles tend to have tan chins with brown eyes
differing from the females who tend to have yellow chins and
orange eyes.

These turtles live in areas that are shallow wetlands. This can
consist of swamps, bogs, fens, and marshes, but not confined to
just these areas.

Spotted turtles are active during they day for the most part,
meaning they are diurnal. However, females are active at night
while they are nesting.

Spotted turtles are preyed upon by bald eagles, skunks, and

The species name for the Diamondback Terrapin is Malaclemys
terrapin. This turtle is a small to medium size turtle which
feeds on sponges, bryozoans, gastropods, crabs, carrion, and
plant material.

They have a hingeless plastron which can be yellow to green or
black, and an oblong carapace is gray, light brown or black.
They can be found in estuaries and salt marshes.

Nesting for these turtles is different from a majority of
turtles because it is during the day. Most turtles tend to nest
during the night. High tide is the most usual time for this
particular turtle to nest.

The red-eared slider is native to the United States. It is
commonly found in the Southern regions. The species name for it
is Trachemys s. elegans.

When the red-eared slider is young it is carnivorous, but as it
ages they become more vegetarian. They are a medium size and
have a dark green oval shell. Their legs are green with think
yellow stripes. The head is also green, but it has a red stripe
behind the eye.

These turtles are found in most permanent slow-moving bodies of
water. They prefer areas with mud bottoms.
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About The Author: Danielle Rose is a featured writer for
ForTurtles. To learn more about turtles, visit and


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