New York Natural Heritage Program
Bog Turtle
Glyptemys muhlenbergii (Schoepff, 1801)

Identifying Characteristics [-]
This is a small turtle with adult carapace (upper shell) lengths ranging from 3 to 4.5 inches in length. The carapace is light brown to black, may have a faint yellowish or reddish pattern visible on the large scutes, and is strongly sculptured with growth lines visible, except in very old adults where the growth lines may be worn smooth. An inconspicuous keel is also present along the dorsal midline of the carapace. The plastron (lower shell) is mainly dark brown to black and may also have large yellowish or reddish blotches present. The head is black with two large orange or yellow blotches above and behind the tympanum (ear) on each side of the head.

Characters Most Useful for Identification [-]
The small size and normally orange (sometimes yellow) head blotches are split into two parts and are characteristic of the species.

Diet [-]
The diet of the bog turtle has been reported to include insects, plants, frogs, and carrion (Bury 1979). Fecal samples from Massachusetts have contained spiders (Aracnida), beetles (Coleoptera), millipedes (Diplopoda), flies (Diptera), snails (Gastropoda), ants (Hymenoptera), moths (Lepidoptera), dragonflies (Odonata), caddisflies (Trichoptera), and plant fragments (Klemens 1993). Slugs (Arion subflavus) have been reported as food items in southeastern New York, while slugs and crayfish have been reported as food items in North Carolina (USFWS 2001).
Bog Turtle Images
click to enlarge
The Best Time to See
Bog turtles are diurnal and are normally active during the early morning to mid-day hours, often in the direct sun. This species hibernates communally and shows site-fidelity to hibernacula.
Present Reproducing
The time of year you would expect to find Bog Turtle present (blue shading) and reproducing (orange shading) in New York.
Similar Species
  • Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata)
    Some individual spotted turtles may lack the characteristic yellow spots on their shells. This is rarely the case, however, and this species can always be distinguished from bog turtles by the many yellow spots that are present on their heads and necks (Conant and Collins 1998).