Female Spotted Turtle Basks in Goldwitz Bog

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Rufus, Sue Wieber Nourse and Female Spotted Turtle

Rufus Retriever, the new Turtle Journal research dog, and Sue Wieber Nourse discovered a mature female spotted turtle basking on the channel bank of the abandoned Goldwitz cranberry bog in Marion, Massachusetts on Sunday.  Turtle Journal has been checking this bog since mid-March and this turtle marked the first spotted we have seen at this location in 2011.

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Female Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata)

Spotted turtles are a small, elusive wetlands species.  This mature female weighed only 189 grams and showed annual growth lines that indicated she was approximately 11 years old.

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Female Spotted Turtles Have Bright Colorful Necks

Spotted turtles exhibit sexual dichromatism.  Beyond morphological differences, females can be identified by a brightly colored yellow/orange neck.  Males in contrast have a drably colored brown or gray neck.

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Female Spotted Turtle Tail

Female spotted turtles also have a thinner tail than males, and the anal opening generally falls inside the carapace (top shell).

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Female Spotted Turtle Carapace

As usual, we took three straight line measurements of the carapace.  The length of the carapace measured 10.4 centimeters and its maximum width was 8.2 centimeters.  The width at the suture between the first and second costal scutes measured 7.9 centimeters.

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Female Spotted Turtle Plastron

The plastron (bottom shell) measured 9.7 centimeters from front to back along the central suture line.  The width of the plaston behind the bridge was 6.05 centimeters.  Female spotted turtles have a largely flat plastron while males have a concavity in the center of the plastron posterior to the bridge.

Spotted Turtle Somersault

Spotted turtles offer a special show when they return to the bog channel after basking on its banks.  A good number of them slip and slide down the steep bank and hit the bottom at such an unusual angle that they do an unintentional somersault into the water.  The one captured in the video above obligingly showed her stuff for the Turtle Journal cameras.

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Wild Turkeys Lead Turtle Journal Out of Bog

As Sue and Rufus drove out of the bog along its one-lane wooded road, they were led by a couple of wild turkeys who moved with a slow sureness that showed they considered this roadway their own.

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