About Spotted Turtles

Spotted turtles are a very small turtle species that usually reach a maximum shell length of 4.5 inches. Hatchlings have a nearly circular shell that is roughly 1 to 1.25 inches long. The top of their shell is smooth and does not contain obvious growth ridges, especially as adults. Turtles are typically black or brown with round, yellow spots. The bottom of their shell is yellow or orange, typically with a black blotch on each scute.

The sexes are dimorphic, meaning males and females have distinctly different physical appearances. A male’s shell is more elongated and he typically has brown eyes, a tan, brown or black chin and a longer, thicker tail. The female’s shell is higher and rounder, and she typically has orange eyes, a yellow or orange chin and a narrow tail.

Spotted turtles become active in the spring and can often be observed moving around when the water temperature is cold. Their activity peaks in April and May, then activity drops during the warmest parts of the summer. In extremely warm weather, these turtles may burrow into leaf litter, muskrat burrows or other aquatic habitats to stay cool. They do like to bask along the water banks or even on logs, but when they are surprised, they will dive back into the water and bury themselves in the mud.

Spotted turtles are often preyed on by raccoons, especially when they are on land. Winter dormancy starts in late summer or fall after the turtles have returned to their aquatic habitats.

Spotted Turtle at the Akron Zoo

The zoo’s spotted turtles can be found in Curious Creatures, located inside our Komodo Kingdom building.