Turtle time

Wed. Jun. 24, 2020

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show: Turtle time

They’re crossing the road to get to the other side for nesting purposes. But that means encountering traffic. Let them pass if you can! 

Wood turtle crossing the road

There are 13 species found in Minnesota(the link on Minnesota shows ALL 13 native species) Wisconsin, (the link on Wisconsin shows all native species) Iowa and North and South Dakota.

Turtles are a crucial member of the freshwater community, keeping waterbodies clean and healthy by consuming decaying matter that can spread disease. They also disperse seeds of native plants, cycle nutrients, and create habitat for other pond critters. Plus they’re pretty cool and we’re infringing on their habitat as well as running them over.

Painted turtle

The most common cutie Painted turtle has been harvested for pets and food for years. In fact, in historic highs, there have been 50,000 harvested in a year.

Two of the 13 are on the threatened list, the Wood Turtle and the Blanding’s Turtle. The Blanding’s turtle is recognizable by it’s bright yellow chin and throat. It’s about 6 to 10 inches in length and has a domed upper shell.

Blanding’s turtle by MN DNR Carol Hall

The Wood turtle was designated threatened in 1984! Their upper shell is really cool looking with grooved designs.

Wood turtle photo from Haliburton Highlands Land Trust

The Smooth Softshell turtle’s habitat is more unique to Wisconsin and this species is listed as “special concern”. They prefer unpolluted waters. They’re not the prettiest turtle you’ve ever seen but, still, they have their place!

Smooth softshell turtle from TurtlesforTomorrow.org

Now a little cutie is the Ouachita turtle. Females are twice the size of males with ranges of 5 to 10 inches and 3 to 6 inches, respectively.

Ouachita turtle