Blanding's Turtle (Emydoidea blandingii)


CITES Status | Taxonomy | Description | Habitat | Distribution | Threats

 

CITES Status

blanding's-turtle

Blanding's Turtle, Credit: Todd Pierson CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Not listed.  Proposed pdf for Appendix II listing by the United States at CoP16.

Taxonomy

Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Family: Emydidae
Genus: Emydoidea
Species: blandingii

Description

A medium-sized hard shell turtle with an elongated smooth black carapace (top shell) covered by irregularly shaped tan or yellow spots.  The throat and neck are bright yellow. Males reach 28cm (about 11 in.) carapace length while females reach 22cm (about 8 1/2 in).

Habitat

Blanding’s turtle uses a variety of wetland habitats, with a preference for shallow, clear, standing water with abundant aquatic vegetation, but it can be found in almost any water body in their area. This species also requires upland habitat, relying on open sandy areas covered in grasses or shrubs for nesting. Due to their high mobility, Blanding’s turtles occupy large areas. Blanding’s turtles often traverse inhabited or disturbed areas, including farm fields, gardens, under power lines, and the edges of dirt roads.

Distribution

Blanding's turtles can be found in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts,  Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Wisconsin and Canada (Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Québec).

Threats

Trade in Blanding’s turtles appears to be restricted to the pet trade; there does not appear to be trade in meat.  The elimination of commercial collecting is considered an immediate conservation need for this species. In October 2012, an international hobbyist magazine featured Blanding’s turtle as one of the most “engaging and interesting” turtles for collectors to keep.  Canada has legal and regulatory conservation requirements which prohibit the commercial export of this species. Under Canada’s endangered species legislation - which does not distinguish between specimens of captive born, bred in captivity or wild origin - the export of Blanding’s turtles is only permitted for purposes related to conservation.

U.S. exports of Blanding’s turtles increased from around 50 specimens per year in 1999 to about 200 per year by 2004. Though exports dropped to 1999 levels in the mid-2000s, they have begun increasing in recent years, again approaching 350 specimens per year by 2011.  Trade in Blanding’s turtle follows an apparent cyclical nature of exports, peaking and rebounding about every five years.  Overall, there appears to be an increasing trend in trade.

In addition to trade, Blanding’s turtle is impacted by habitat fragmentation and destruction caused by road building and land conversion. More importantly, proximity to human habitation exposes these turtles to higher road mortality and facilitates access to collectors. Adult nesting females are more vulnerable to collection. Mortality and collection are barriers to gene flow, which could jeopardize the species’ long-term survival by leading to inbreeding.  Blanding’s turtles may experience increased predation of eggs, young, and possibly adults from subsidized predators (i.e., unnaturally large populations of predators near human population centers). Blanding’s turtles often get caught in baited traps intended for commercial trapping of snapping turtles. Once captured, a ready market exists to sell Blanding’s turtles, which is an incentive not to release the turtles back to the wild.

Additional Information