One of the sure signs of spring in Connecticut is the emergence of Spotted Turtles (Clemmys guttata.) These gorgeous little woodland turtles pack, pound for pound, the most personality of any North American herp I’ve met. In fact, the habitat and situations in which I usually encounter them are so mystical, that any animist or polytheist might think that they were seeing some sprite, nymph or fairy ducking through the leaf litter: they often inhabit vernal pools and iris-littered swamps, blending in perfectly with the dark leaf litter. In fact, it’s usually just the moving spots that give them away when I see them in the water.
Perhaps because of tight spaces in their preferred habitat; Spotted Turtles are quite petite – usually around 5 inches in carapace length as adults. They usually will flee if encountered, hiding in the mud at the bottom of their pool, but for those who are patient can often be observed from a distance while basking on sunny mornings. They seem to have a good tolerance of cold conditions and are often seen on chilly mornings before one would expect to see any reptiles out and about.
Spotted Turtle habitat.