The bog turtle
) is a semiaquatic turtle endemic
to the eastern United States. It was first scientifically described in 1801 after an 18th century survey of Pennsylvania. It is the smallest North American turtle, measuring about 10 centimeters (4 in) long when fully grown. Although the bog turtle is similar in appearance to the painted
or spotted turtles
, its closest relative is actually the somewhat larger wood turtle
. The bog turtle can be found from Vermont in the north, south to Georgia, and west to Ohio. Diurnal
and secretive, it spends most of its time buried in mud and - during the winter months - in hibernation. The bog turtle is omnivorous, feeding mainly on small invertebrates
Adult bog turtles weigh 110 grams (3.9 oz) on average. Their skins and shells are typically dark brown, with a distinctive orange spot on each side of the neck. Considered threatened at the federal level, the bog turtle is protected under the United States' Endangered Species Act. Invasive plants and urban development have eradicated much of the bog turtle's habitat, substantially reducing its numbers. Demand for the bog turtle is high in the black market pet trade, partly because of its small size and unique characteristics. Various private projects have been undertaken in an attempt to reverse the decline in the turtle's population.
The turtle has a low reproduction rate; females lay one clutch per year, with an average of three eggs each. The young tend to grow rapidly, reaching sexual maturity between the ages of 4 and 10 years old. Bog turtles live for an average of 20 to 30 years in the wild. Since 1973, the Bronx Zoo has successfully bred bog turtles in captivity.