Sunday, April 4, 2010

Blanding's Turtle - Won't You Help Preserve This Endangered Species?

By Karma Williams

Perhaps you have already heard of the Russian Tortoise, the Red Eared Slider Turtle, and the Painted Turtle. Perhaps you know that these, and other turtles, are commonly kept as pets. But have you ever heard of the Blanding's Turtle? Here are some interesting facts about this endangered species.

Blanding's turtles (Emydoidea blandingii) may look charming to people, with their medium size of six to nine inches in length. Belonging to the semi-aquatic type of turtles, it has a high-domed shell like a box turtle, but its carapace has the shape and size of a football. Their shells are black with yellow spots. The distinctive marks of Blanding's turtles are their brilliant yellow chins and throats.

Blanding's turtles are shy and non-aggressive. In fact, the Blanding's turtle has a tendency to stay at the bottom of its habitat for long a time when it senses danger. Unlike other turtles, they rarely bite, and, aside from being good swimmers, they can also catch live fish. Like most other turtles, they are confirmed baskers, and must sun themselves to dry off and stay warm.

Blanding's turtles prefer to inhabit areas with low, slow-moving water and with an abundance of aquatic vegetation. Blanding's turtles are found around swamps, weedy ponds, and marshes throughout North America, in the Great Lakes region, from southern Ontario to Michigan to northern Ohio and Indiana; west from Illinois, Wisconsin, southern Minnesota, Iowa, and northeastern Nebraska. (Benedictine University, 2009)

This species hibernates from late October until early April. After hibernation, mating in Blanding's turtles usually occurs in April and May, with nesting beginning in early June and ending the same month. The Blanding's turtle takes quite a while (from 14 to 20 years) to reach sexual maturity. Blanding's turtles can live for 70 years and are omnivores, feeding on plants, vegetable debris, and fish.

Blanding's turtles are listed as threatened species in Massachusetts, Illinois, Minnesota, and Iowa, among other states. It is against the law to keep this threatened species in captivity. However, even in the wild, this turtle is in jeopardy. For example, in New York, a major concern is the devastation of the Blanding's turtle's territory due to the building of housing development projects, beach properties, and other summer leisure facilities. These facilities encroach on and destroy the wild habitat of the Blanding's turtle.

This alarming trend is forcing people to realize that now is the right time to become aware of the importance of keeping the population of these endangered species of turtles. If they become extinct, people will surely notice a negative impact on their ecosystem. People must follow and enforce the laws strictly to make sure of the Blanding's turtle's continued existence. We must take action now to ensure that our children, and our children's children, see these beautiful creatures not only in pictures, as part of history, but alive, in their natural habitats.

Karma Williams is a turtle care enthusiast who has raised turtles for over 23 years, and enjoys helping others get started in this amazing hobby. You can discover more about turtles by visiting the turtle hibernation and turtle mating pages of her website. Her newest eBook is entitled "The Ultimate Guide to Pet Turtle Care".

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