Say hello to the Blanding Turtle. I saw my first Blanding Turtle (Emydoidea Blandingii) while I was driving my car down a dirt road. All of a sudden I saw a large turtle with his bright yellow neck, out on the road in front of me. I pulled the car to the side of the road and went for a closer look. Hoping to stop the turtle from being hit by another driver, Carol and I stood on each side of it and went for the slowest walk across the road of all time. It took a good 15 minutes for him to get across and into the marsh on the other side.
The Blanding Turtle is easy to identify. Check to see if it has a bright yellow throat and jaw. Does it? Excellent! You’ve just found yourself a Blanding Turtle.
The Blanding Turtle can be found in freshwater areas: lakes, slow-moving streams, marshes and swamps. They prefer shallow water with heavily vegetated areas. If you’re in the mood for a turtle-finding quest, you can see them locally at Tommy Thompson Park, all along the Rouge and various swamps in and around the GTA.
On a more serious note: I spoke with Karen McDonald from Toronto and Regional Conservation. She is a Project Manager in the Restoration and Environmental Monitoring Projects Restoration Services. She is very concerned about the Blanding Turtle. She told me it is identified under the Endangered Species Act and Species at Risk Act.
She said the main problem for Blanding Turtles is that their habitats, especially around cities, are constantly at risk. It also takes 25 years for a female to reach maturity and be able to lay eggs. If they survive that long, a female will lay a clutch of three to 19 eggs every two to three years.
What can we do to help save these turtles? First and foremost, never take a turtle from the wild home as a pet. If you see a turtle in the middle of the road, very carefully move it to the side of the road. Lift it by the sides and move in the direction it is travelling. Never grab a turtle by the tail as it can damage the spine.
Blanding Turtles can live for more than 75 years and with a little more help and awareness from us, maybe more of them will last that long.