Celebrating World Turtle Day
African Sideneck Turtle
The African Sideneck Turtle is a freshwater turtle, originally discovered in Eastern and Southern Africa, with a lifespan of 25+ years. These turtles are most active during the day and in the wild they spend most of their time in the mud of shallow lakes and rivers. African Sidenecks mainly consume invertebrates such as: insects (crickets), mealworms, and worms. They got their name due to the fact that they cannot fully withdraw their head into their shell. Instead, the head is turned to the side and folded under the upper edge of the shell.
Yellow-Spotted Amazon River Turtle
Similar to the African Sideneck, the Yellow-Spotted Amazon River Turtle cannot fully withdraw its head into its shell. These turtles are native to the Amazon River basin and can be found in the amazon and Orinoco river systems in Venezuela, eastern Colombia, eastern Ecuador, northeastern Peru, the Guianas, Brazil, and northern Bolivia. They are omnivorous and feed on both vegetation and small animals. And they love to spend time basking along the riverbanks and in the calm waters of big rivers and streams. The oldest known Yellow-Spotted Amazon River Turtle living in human care reached 23 years of age, but they can live up to 70 years!
Ohio Spotted Turtle
The Ohio Spotted Turtle is a small (less than six inches) black turtle with distinctive yellow spots on the top of the shell, or carapace. The Spotted Turtle populations have declined greatly throughout Ohio due to people altering wetlands and thereby destroying its natural habitat. These turtles have a preference for the shallow, sluggish waters of ditches, small streams, marshes, bogs, and pond edges – especially where vegetation is abundant. They feed on plant and animal matter taken underwater. If this turtle is disturbed it may quickly dive for safety, or it may leisurely walk into the water and swim to the bottom where it may remain motionless, burrow into the muck, or crawl beneath some sheltering object such as a submerged log.
The Spotted Turtle Project
Member organizations of the Lake Erie Allegheny Partnership for Biodiversity (LEAP) are dedicated to the protection and restoration of biological diversity in our region. LEAP members have formed the Save and Protect Ohio Turtle Diversity (SPOTD) committee. The goals of this committee are to:
- Increase survivorship of turtle hatchlings
- Repatriate populations of this Ohio Threatened species in protected habitats within Northeast Ohio
- Increase recruitment of these animals into the adult populations
- Educate the public and involve local academics through research
There are many threats today that have a great impact on Spotted Turtle populations, such as:
- Wetland Loss/Degradation
- Habitat Fragmentation
- Illegal Harvest/Pet Trade
- Roadway Mortality
- Climate Change
- Human-caused increases in Meso-Predator Populations (i.e. Raccoon)
- Delayed Sexual Maturity
- Low Reproductive Potential
During the months of March-May, if you see this yellow spotted, black turtle anywhere in Northeast Ohio as you are hiking through trails and natural areas, let the SPOTD committee know by emailing SPOTD@leapbio.org.
For more information on this project visit Leap’s website.