American Military University
Dr. James Brown
The quote “good things come in small packages” is the perfect description of the bog turtle. The bog turtle, Glyptemys muhlenbergii, is the smallest turtle located in the northeast, growing only to be about three to four and a half inches long (Hay 568). Bog turtles are no bigger than the palm of your hand. This charming little turtle is noticed most by the yellow-orange spots that can be found on either sides of the head and the mahogany color of its shell. Bog turtles live in a mosaic of open, sunny, spring fed wetlands and scattered dry areas (Hay 568). The variety of wet and dry places meet all the basic needs required by this charming turtle: basking, foraging, nesting, hibernating, and finding shelter. Sunny open areas provide the warmth needed to regulate the turtles’ body temperature and incubate its eggs. Soft, muddy areas allow the turtle to escape from predators and high temperatures. Dry areas allow a place for the turtle to nest and the spring that flows all year long ensures that the turtle will not freeze throughout winter. This turtle is located in the temperate deciduous forest biome.
This tiny turtle hatches from its egg in late August, early September, after incubating for forty-two to fifty-six days (Earnst 1994). Shortly after being born, together the small turtles burrow into mud or find an abandoned vole or muskrat hole to hibernate in. Around eight years of age these guys finally reach maturity. In the spring after that, they begin to mate with one another. After fertilized, the female turtle will begin to build her nest in sphagnum moss. During the beginning summer months the female will lay up to six eggs at a time (Earnst 1994). Once laid, the female will leave the eggs unattended so that they can incubate. These amazing little turtles can live up to 40 years. Bog turtles are active from April to October but are most easily found basking in the early morning sun in the spring months before their habitats are obscured by vegetation. Bog turtles feed during the daylight hours; however, they are seldom active during the hottest part of the day and are inactive on chilly mornings.
To get their food, he bog turtle must go through a process. They extend their neck and open their mouth while their neck expands (Harding, 2012). They suck in their prey and are easily able to cut up their food in their mouths because of the sharp teeth they possess, although they sometimes use their feet to crush the food. The bog turtle uses the help of its tongue to the swallow the food. Their meal goes from the mouth of the turtle through the pharynx and into the esophagus and finally in the stomach. This is where the digestion starts. In the stomach, the food is softened and stored. The food then goes from the stomach into the small intestine. The small intestine is so long that it can take up to four whole weeks to pass through it. During this time, cellulose is broken down and used. Nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream while in the intestine. Then, the undigested food is moved to the large intestine and the water is returned to it. The wastes that are left over in the large intestine get emptied into the cloaca. Wastes are now excreted from the body (Harding, 2012). The bog turtle’s diet includes seeds, berries, insects, slugs, worms, crayfish, frogs, snakes, snails, and carrion. Bog turtles are omnivorous, and consume food both in and out of water. A unique adaptation the bog turtle possesses is that some pieces of its shell have lighter centers, allowing for sunlight to penetrate more easily for the turtle to warm themselves. This turtle also has the ability to live without oxygen, therefore, it can burrow in the mud for the cold winter months without coming up for air.
Although fossil Clemmys date back to the Paleocene, 70,000,000 YBP (Romer 468), fossil records are scant and provide...
References: Holman, J. A. 1977. The Pleistocene (Kansan) herpetofauna of Cumberland Cave, Maryland. Annals of Carnegie Museum 66:157-172 pp. Retrieved September 6, 2014.
Romer, A. S. 1966. Vertebrate Paleontology. Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago, 468 pp. Retrieved September 6, 2014.
Hay, O. P. 1908. The fossil turtles of North America. Carnegie Institution of Washington, Publication No. 75. 568 pp. Retrieved September 6, 2014.
Walunas, R. (2011, June 11). Bog Turtle: Conservation of the Northeast: 1-2 pp. Retrieved September 6, 2014.
Harding, J. (2012, May 3). Glyptemys muhlenbergii. Retrieved September 6, 2014.
Ernst, C., J. Lovich, R. Barbour. 1994. Turtles of the United States and Canada. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.
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