Young Female Spotted Turtle @ Abandoned Goldwitz Cranberry Bog


Female Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata)

In a soaking wet springtime, you take sunshine wherever you find it.  For Sue Wieber Nourse of the Turtle Journal team, a sunburst of color came in the sweet face of this gorgeous young female spotted turtle (Clemmys guttata) that Sue found swimming in a channel of Goldwitz Bog in Marion on the South Coast of Massachusetts.  We have been monitoring this bog and its reptile species for the last half decade, yet Friday morning marked the first time we had found this young lady, now memoralized with the marking of #8 to match her youthful age. 


Sue Wieber Nourse Examines Young Female Spotted Turtle

We have marveled at the “brilliance” of earlier naturalists who were able to come up with such a clever name for the species (smile).  This youngster’s yellow spots were so pure that they seemed as though they were just dabbed onto her dark shell.  What appears so gaudy when out of their habitat becomes a key camouflage feature when they return to the safety of the bog and the spots blend perfectly with duck weed and other similar “smears” in the abandoned cranberry bog channels.


Flat Plastron Plus Yellow-Orange Chin and Eyes

Examining her plastron (bottom side) provides an excellent illustration of this species’ sexual dichromatism.  From birth, females sport a bright yellow-orange chin coloring and bright yellow-orange around the rim of their eyes, while males have a drab brown-gray coloration.  Another indicator of gender is the flat “washboard” abdominals.  Males have a concave indentation along the abdominal scutes.  Finally, her tail is rather slim and slender, while the male tail is broad and chubby.

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Young Female Spotted Turtle @ Goldwitz Bog

After being marked, measured and weighed, Spotted Turtle #8 showed off her sunshine beauty and slipped back into the grayness of another rainy spring day.  Within this abandoned bog, she is joined by painted turtles and snapping turtles, as well as a variety of snakes, frogs and toads.  A few brave ducks swoop in to rest and feed, and a family of Canada geese with a half dozen goslings have taken temporary residence.  Beware of the snappers, young goslings!

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