Blanding's turtles grow to 5 to 10 inches long. They mature very slowly, not until age 16 to 20, and they can live up to 70 or more years.
Blanding's turtles have a high-domed carapace (upper shell) that is black with small white or yellow spots. Its plastron (lower shell) is yellow with brown blotches. Their shells are hinged, allowing their head, tail, and legs to be drawn into the shell.
Habitat and behavior:
Blanding's turtles are semi-aquatic. They spend a lot of their time in water, but are known to travel long distances over land. In Illinois, they live on wet prairie or wetlands, near water. They eat, breed, and hibernate in water, preferring muddy-bottomed lakes or ponds. Usually in June, they breed and the female travels over land to lay her 6 to 20 eggs away from the water. The young hatch 10 to 15 weeks later and must travel back to the water.
Blanding's turtles eat live insects, snails, caterpillars, cray fish, and tadpoles. They catch their food by rapidly thrusting out their head to snatch it.
Distribution and status:
Blanding's turtles occur in the northern half of Illinois in areas that historically supported prairie. This species is common in a few areas, but was mor abundant before the disappearance of native prairies. It is threatened in Illinois.