Species At Risk

Turtles at Risk

Most of Ontario's turtles are at risk

If you've spent much time mucking around in a swamp or sitting at the side of a pond, you've probably caught sight of turtles slipping through the water or basking in the sunshine. Turtles are found across most of Ontario, though they're increasingly rare. Of the eight kinds of turtles in the province, all but one (the midland painted turtle) are at risk of disappearing from Ontario.

Turtles are threatened by loss of habitat due to urban sprawl and clearing of land for agriculture, habitat destruction by off-road vehicles, being hit by cars on the road, and illegal collection for the pet trade.

Turtles have an important role to play in our province's biodiversity. They help control insect and snail populations, disperse seeds, and help keep the water clean for all animals - including humans - by scavenging dead animals and preying on weak or sick individuals.

Turtles are especially vulnerable to threats because they have long life spans (over 70 years for some) and low birth rates. The early death of even a few adult turtles a year will cause populations to decline, as they have in Ontario.

Check out the links below to learn more about Ontario's turtles at risk, including how you can help protect them.

Turtles

Blanding's Turtle
Blanding's Turtle (Emydoidea blandingii)
threatened
These turtles can survive in the wild for more than 75 years.
Eastern Musk Turtle
Eastern Musk Turtle (Stinkpot) (Sternotherus odoratus)
threatened
Unlike other turtles, the Eastern Musk Turtle rarely leaves the water except when females lay eggs. It spends most of the day resting on the soft lake bottom, foraging for food or basking in the sun under floating aquatic vegetation in shallow water.
Northern Map Turtle
Northern Map Turtle (Graptemys geographica)
special concern
The Northern Map Turtle is extremely wary and will dive into the water at the slightest provocation.
Snapping Turtle
Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)
special concern
These turtles spend so much time underwater that algae grow on their shells. This helps them blend in with their surroundings.
Spiny Softshell
Spiny Softshell (Apalone spinifera)
threatened
The Spiny Softshell turtle captures crayfish and molluscs by partially burying itself underwater in the sand or mud and snatching unsuspecting prey. Its snorkel-like snout allows it to take a breath of air while submerged.
Spotted Turtle
Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata)
endangered
Most female and male turtles look a little bit different. In the case of Spotted Turtles, females have bright orange eyes and chins whereas males’ are dark brown or black.
Wood Turtle
Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta)
endangered
Wood turtles do not begin reproducing until they are at least 17 years old.