The Bog Turtle is a diminutive species native to the eastern United States that is quickly recognized by the distinctive yellow, orange, pink, or red patches that adorn the sides of its head. This dark mahogany-colored beauty holds the title as the smallest turtle in the country, typically ranging just 3 to 4.5 inches in length. The Bog Turtle is well adapted to a semi aquatic lifestyle in shallow wetlands, where its low profile facilitates movement through dense vegetation, muck, and subterranean tunnels.
The Turtle Survival Alliance-North American Freshwater Turtle Research Group (TSA-NAFTRG) works with this charming yet Critically Endangered turtle species in northern New Jersey, where we commenced a radio telemetry study in the spring of 2023 to gather year-round data on turtle locations, ecology, and critical life histories such as behavior, unique home ranges, nesting sites, and overwintering hibernacula.
Additionally, Turtle Survival Alliance supports Bog Turtle research and conservation efforts through the Turtle Survival Alliance/Zoo Knoxville Bern Tryon Southern Bog Turtle Fund, like the work of Mike Knoerr and JJ Apodaca at multiple wetlands in North Carolina. Furthermore, the Bog Turtle is one of the five focal species of the Turtle Survival Alliance-hosted Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Saving Animals From Extinction (AZA SAFE): American Turtle Program.
Our Bog Turtle research effort in New Jersey is supported and permitted by New Jersey Fish & Wildlife and funded by TC Energy. Special thanks to Laura Ware-MacNeil and Brian Zarate.
The work we support in North Carolina through the Bern Tryon Southern Bog Turtle Fund is a collaboration between Tangled Bank Conservation, Amphibian and Reptile Conservancy, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, United States Fish & Wildlife Service, and The Nature Conservancy.
Pictured: Bog Turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii)
Countries of Origin: United States
Habitat: Stream-, spring-, and seep-fed fens, sedge meadows, sphagnum bogs, marshes, and open shrubby swamps
Wild Population: Decreasing; populations highly fragmented estimated population reduction greater than 90%
IUCN Red List Status: Critically Endangered
Threats: Habitat destruction, alteration, and fragmentation; illegal collection for the pet trade, increased mesopredator population levels
Header image: A hatchling Bog Turtle found in shallow water in North Carolina wetlands. Photo by Mike Knoerr.
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