On the Wild Side!
E-Newsletter for the Chesapeake Bay Field Office


Maryland Bog Turtles Yield Some Surprises

Male bog turtle. Photo by Leslie Gerlich, USFWS
Male bog turtle. Photo by Leslie Gerlich, USFWS
Throughout 6 weeks in May and June, Chesapeake Bay Field Office biologist, Lelie Gerlich, led volunteer surveys to confirm the presence of bog turtles (Clemmys (Glyptemys) muhlenbergii) in Maryland wetlands.

At only about 4 inches long, the bog turtle is one of North America's smallest turtles. This federally threatened species lives in a mosaic of open, sunny, springfed wetlands and scattered dry areas. Sunny open areas provide the warmth needed to regulate the turtle's body temperature and incubate its eggs, while soft muddy areas allow turtles to escape from predators and extreme temperatures.

Volunteers from Maryland and five other states assisted in the effort. Eighteen known bog turtle wetlands were visited and 51 bog turtles were found. But this year’s survey also contained some surprises. One bog turtle captured was estimated to 30+ years old, hatchling turtles were found at two sites, and bog turtles were confirmed at four sites where they hadn’t been observed for 10+ years.

The bog turtle searchers collected morphology data, including size, weight and sex on the turtles prior to returning each to its wetland home. This information will be added to a database maintained by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources containing 20 years of bog turtle survey data.

For more information contact:
Leslie Gerlich




Last updated: July 26, 2013