Common turtles of our region

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118409292816944.jpg’, ”, ‘Blandings turtle – Emydoidea blandingii is easily recognized by its yellowish spots and bright yellow chin. As it ages, the upper shell may turn entirely dark. This Great Lakes region turtle is endangered in many areas because of habitat loss and its tendency to wander very long distances from the confines of safe wetland habitats. Like other turtles, many Blandings turtles are killed trying to cross highways. They are found in the northern half of the state, and, despite their endangered status, they are generally common where ample habitat is available. These turtles typically grow about 10 inches in length.‘);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118409301712253.jpg’, ”, ‘Painted turtle – Chrysemys picta is one of our most abundant turtles, found in nearly every county of the state. Its shell is somewhat flat compared to other turtles, and its sides have reddish markings. Two subspecies live in Illinois—the midland painted turtle (Chrysemys picta marginata) with a light yellowish underside, and the western painted turtle (Chrysemys picta belli) with a red patterned underside. Painted turtles typically grow to about 8 inches in length.‘);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118409303429998.jpg’, ”, ”);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118409309812644.jpg’, ”, ‘Slider – Trachemys scripta is another abundant turtle, found in most counties of the state. The subspecies shown here, with the red mark on the side of its head, is actually the red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans). As they age, these turtles often lose much of their coloration and turn a muddy green. Sliders typically grow about 10 inches in length.‘);

These common Illinois turtles are usually found near marshes, ponds, creeks and rivers.

Turtles belong to an ancient order of reptiles known as Testudines, whose history reaches back 215 million years.

Most of the world’s 260 living species have adapted to life on land, but many of our native species are more prevalent in or near water. Turtles are most diverse in the tropics, but they’re also plentiful in temperate regions, and they have even been found in Arctic waters.

In our own region, you’ll often find turtles basking in the sun atop rocks and logs jutting out of the water. As cold-blooded (ectothermic) creatures, they rely on sunlight to warm up.

Illinois is home to 17 turtle species, including the following:

from the July 11-17, 2007, issue

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