bog (= Muhlenberg) turtle

(Clemmys (=Glyptemys) muhlenbergii)


This is a small freshwater turtle that has a maximum carapace length of 4.5 inches. The carapace is roughened with growth rings that are dark brown to black, sometimes with irregular radiations or markings, and has a smooth posterior rim. This species is not sexually mature until 6 years of age. It breeds from late April to early June, in shallow water and on land, and eggs hatch in the Fall. There may be two clutches/year and it takes from 50-59 days for the eggs to hatch. The eggs are laid in shallow nests in grass tussocks, moss, or soft soils. This species is active only during April, May, June and September and aestivates during high temperatures. It is usually seen only during the early spring and during the nesting season because the dead and matted grasses and sedges form a dense ground cover during late spring and summer. During the winter this turtle hibernates below the frost depth in holes, muskrat burrows, in sedge clumps, or in the mud of waterways. The mean home range is 3.2 acres. Bog turtles bask during midday on grass mats or in shallow rivulets.


This species is found in Virginia only in the southern Blue Ridge Plateau above 610 meters elevation. It inhabits sphagnum bogs or wet sedge meadows in or near slow moving streams with a muddy bottom. The highest populations occur in the shrub stage of forest succession. Alder, skunk cabbage, and sedges are common plant associations.


This species eats berries, insects and dead animals. Known prey includes a variety of insects, earthworms, slugs, snails, millipedes, crayfish, tadpoles, duckweed, seeds of pondweed (Potamogeton) and sedges (Carex), blackberries and strawberries.