Turtles of Ontario: The Blandings’s Turtle

The Female Blandings's Turtle in Ontario
The Female Blandings’s Turtle

All too often, turtles are killed by vehicular traffic. This female Blandings’s Turtle was photographed in the middle of a rural road as she was returning from her nest. It was early in the morning during the first week of June when I arrived near the crossing point. She already had traversed my side of the road and was preparing to complete the other half. The road I was driving on was isolating two areas of equal importance for turtles. On one side was a small beach with sand dunes – the ideal terrestrial habitat for the Blandings’s turtles to establish their nests. On the other side of the road was a large wetland – the natural aquatic habitat for all turtle species. At the time of my arrival, she probably just finished laying her eggs in the neighbouring sand dune and was returning to her feeding grounds.

Although it was an unpaved, secondary road, both my car and an incoming pick-up truck managed to be at the exact same place at the same time with this Blandings’s turtle. A slow travelling turtle into the path of moving vehicles will - in most instances - result in the death of the individual. The loss of adult turtles to road kill ranks among the most important threats to the sustainability of the turtle population. The Government of Canada is currently listing the Blandings’s Turtle as Threatened – “A species that is at risk of becoming endangered in Ontario if limiting factors are not reversed.” (Species at Risk)

The Blandings’s Turtle is known to live 70+ years, with some reports indicating a record longevity of 77 years. A medium-sized freshwater turtle, it is easily identified by its vivid yellow chin. With hatchlings survival rate very low, she’s one unhappy camper – despite her built-in “smile”. I was happy to spot her on time and so position my car in the opposite traffic lane, all the while signalling desperately for the truck to slow down and go around. Not an entirely safe action from my part. One road kill and one car accident avoided in this instance. With the emergency lights blinking and the area “secured” I took a minute to capture a few frames of the smiley turtle and move her out of harm’s way.

Close-up of female Blandings's Turtle
The Female Blandings’s Turtle – Say Cheese!

This story is part of an ongoing assignment to cover the eight turtle species in Ontario. You can participate in this assignment by sending us your Turtles of Ontario photographs along with your observations and stories to the following email address: assignments@mikephoto.com
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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

John February 20, 2011 at 9:08 am

Next to the wood turtle, the blandings is my favorite Ontario turtle. The comical expression was captured perfectly in your pics.

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Mike Lascut February 22, 2011 at 6:56 am

Hi John,
Thanks for your kind words. Never got the chance to photograph the wood turtle in the wild, but it’s on my list.
All the best,
MikeL

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