Spotted Turtle
Massachusetts Species of Special Concern

The spot patterns on the shells of spotted turtles vary considerably, but distinguish them from other species.

Spotted turtles rely heavily on vernal pools early in the spring as an important source of food after coming out of hibernation. The spotted turtle is a small (3.5-5.5”), primarily aquatic turtle with a smooth black shell and obvious bright yellow spots on its carapace, legs, head, and tail. The number and arrangement of spots vary considerably among turtles and can actually be used to identify individuals. Some may lack spots altogether on the carapace, but they will have the characteristic spots on the head and neck. Males can be distinguished from females by their concave plastron (bottom shell), a brown or black jaw and brown eyes. Females have a flat or convex plastron, orange chin, red eyes and a yellow beak.

Early in the spring, spotted turtles spend considerable amounts of time in vernal pools feeding on amphibian eggs, invertebrates, and other food items. They are state-listed as a species of “Special Concern” and should be reported to the NHESP