This little turtle right here is the bog turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii). A native of only 12 U.S. states, this turtle is definitely not the famous red eared slider, painted turtle, or snapping turtle, but it sure is pretty darn cool. Bog turtles get their name from their primary habitat, acidic bogs located across the Northeastern (and some located within a few southern states) United States. These turtles can often be found in slow moving water often associated with small waterfalls within these bog habitats. Unfortunately, mainly due to urbanization and agricultural development, bog turtle habitat is on a rapid decline. Just back in the early to mid 20th century you could go out and find dozens of these turtles in their native habitat, but today you are very lucky if you ever see one. Besides the fact that bog turtle habitat is being degraded at such a rapid pace, the animals are highly sought after as well. It happens all to much, that an animal faces a great environmental stressor such as habitat loss, which leads to its near extirpation, just to reveal the animals rarity to the whole of humankind. In some ways this revealing is positive, such as the efforts invested in this species by Bern Tryon many years ago which have inevitably bolstered populations of these animals. However, it is all to often that rarity spikes the wrong kind of interest. That of Keith Cantor, and many other reptile smugglers. So over the past few decades, habitat loss and collection for the greed of humankind have driven this turtle to the brink. To the point where current study locations cannot be revealed due to the fact that they may be raided for turtles. One study that looked into the home ranges of these animals couldn’t even state the general vicinity as to where it was conducted. It’s a shame that poaching is going so far as to limit science. The fact that such a charismatic turtle is on the brink of extinction deeply saddens me. However, much good is being done such as telemetry work to find out where these turtles are thriving and head-starting studies to maximize bog turtle hatchling survival to improve the future for this animal.
Photo from The Trentonian