Scientific Name: Clemmys guttata
Classification: Reptilia, Order Testudines, Family Emydidae
- Species of Greatest Conservation Need-Tier 3a on the Virginia Wildlife Action Plan
Habitat: Although primarily a Coastal Plain species, there are several records from the Piedmont region and a few records in Augusta and Page counties. This species typically inhabits a variety of shallow, tannin stained “blackwater” habitats that are in close proximity to forested areas. They avoid large, open bodies of water such as lakes and reservoirs.
Distribution: The spotted turtle is found east of the Blue Ridge Mountains, but is also found in Augusta and Page counties in the Shenandoah Valley. It inhabits a variety of shallow-water aquatic habitats, including ponds, streams, flooded fields, bogs, forested wetlands, and freshwater marshes, that have wooded areas nearby.
This is a small freshwater turtle reaching a maximum carapace length of 5 inches. The carapace (upper shell) is black to blue-black with 3 to 92 yellow or cream-colored spots. The plastron (lower shell) is yellow, cream, or orange-ish with large black blotches. The skin on head, neck, and limbs is dark gray to black with a variable number of yellow spots on them; the undersides of the limbs are reddish to yellowish in color. Juveniles are colored and patterned as adults, but with one spot in most pleural and vertebral scutes. Older individuals usually have more spots than juveniles, and the carapace may be very worn, eroded, and spotless. The non-breeding territory for this species is 1.3 acres (.002 square miles). This species is active from spring thaw until June. Mating occurs in spring in shallow water. Two to seven eggs are laid in the late spring or summer. Basking occurs frequently, especially early in the activity season, on logs, stumps, grass mats, and tussocks. This turtle overwinters underwater in mud, under banks, or in muskrat burrows.
Did you know?
The “spots” on the carapace are actually clear windows in the keratin layer revealing the yellow coloration from below.
Last updated: November 11, 2023
The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources Species Profile Database serves as a repository of information for Virginia’s fish and wildlife species. The database is managed and curated by the Wildlife Information and Environmental Services (WIES) program. Species profile data, distribution information, and photography is generated by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, State and Federal agencies, Collection Permittees, and other trusted partners. This product is not suitable for legal, engineering, or surveying use. The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources does not accept responsibility for any missing data, inaccuracies, or other errors which may exist. In accordance with the terms of service for this product, you agree to this disclaimer.