Added 16 April 2023.


Blanding's Turtle

This is a rare species. It was formerly considered part of the genus Emys and hence a relative of the European Pond Turtle, but was differentiated from it by virtue of differences in the construction of the skull; however there remain similarities in appearance and behaviour. As a rule the species requires more warmth than E. orbicularis, eats more plant food and tends to leave the water more [Müller]. Conant and Collins suggested in 1998 that the genus might also be closely related to the Chicken Turtle, Deirochelys, since both genera have the first vertebral scute in contact with four marginals and the nuchal, whereas in other North American genera only two marginals are contacted.

For captive care, see Müller and particularly the article by Bartlett: however, Müller strongly discourages captive ownership of this animal by beginners, and Bartlett notes the importance of making sure that any captives are legally acquired.

Species Name

Common Name




E. blandingii

Blanding's Turtle [D: Amerikanische Sumpfschildkröte]

S Canada (S Ontario, SW Quebec, S/C Nova Scotia), N & C USA (Michigan, Illinois N Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, W Nebraska, NE Missouri, Pennsylvania, E New York, S/C Connecticut, S Rhode Island, NE Massachusetts, S New Hampshire, SW Maine)

5-7"/12½-18cm;max 10¾/27¼cm

Also known as the "semi-box turtle" because of its hinged plastron. Like other North American pond turtles, the species has suffered decline across its range and some parts of its distribution are discontinuous, including Nova Scotia, New York and the New England areas. Although it can wander far from water it is at home in aquatic habitats. Like Emys orbicularis the species seems to take any food on land to the water for swallowing, which is done in a manner similar to Deirochelys and Chelus fimbriatus. In the wild, may hiss when picked up. Carapace: domed; first vertebral scute in contact with four marginals and nuchal. Plastron: hinged, allowing lobes to be pulled up towards carapace though less so than in box turtles (Terrapene). Coloration: carapace is patterned similarly to E. orbicularis, in a distinct yellow, the spots often joining to form bars or streaks, but fading with age so that some adults are nearly completely black; plastron may be yellow with dark markings or black with only faint markings; head and dorsal surfaces of neck, limbs and tail are greyish; crown and face have lighter markings; throat is pale to bright yellow. Other: tail very long. Reproduction: upper jaw is dark in males but light in females; up to 22 (but normally 8-16) eggs laid per single annual clutch, and females may not lay every year; hatchlings are more rounded than adults [SOURCES: see Bibliography].


"Random Notes on the Pond and Blanding's Turtles," R D Bartlett, Reptile & Amphibian Hobbyist 6:6, February 2001. Covers the four members of the former genus Clemmys plus Emydoidea blandingii.


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