Blanding’s turtle

(Emydoidea blandingii)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

EN - Endangered

Blanding’s turtle


N4 - Apparently Secure

S2 - Imperiled



Species in Greatest Conservation Need




Shallow wetlands near sandy uplands.


75 years or more


Carapace length: 6¾ to 10¾



This is a long-lived, medium-sized turtle. Adult males are of 6¾ to 10¾ in length. Females are a little smaller.

The hard upper shell (carapace) is elongated, smooth, and high domed. It is black with scattered yellow flecks or dots. It does not have a longitudinal raised ridge. In some individuals the carapace appears almost entirely black. The scales (scutes) that form the carapace are flat, not sculpted.

The lower shell (plastron) is hinged between the forward (pectoral) and rear (abdominal) scutes, allowing it to completely close its shell. There is a V-shaped notch near the tail. Each scute has a large dark blotch on the outer edge, at least at the rear corner. On males the plastron is slightly concave. On females it is more flat.

The head, neck, legs, and tail are black or dark brown and are sometimes speckled with yellow. The chin, throat, and underside of the neck are bright yellow.

The head is elongated and small. The snout is short and rounded. The upper jaw is notched, giving the appearance of a permanent smile. On females the upper jaw has some yellowish, vertical striping. On males, the upper jaw is black and unmarked. The neck is short. The neck and head together are less than half as long as the plastron.

The legs are modified for swimming but are not flipper-like. The toes are webbed.

The tail is short, less than half as long as the carapace. The female has a narrower tail than the male.




Crayfish, insects, leeches, snails, small fish, frogs, berries, and other plant material.

Life Cycle

Blanding’s turtles emerge from hibernation in April and bask in the sun away from the shore. Mating takes place throughout the warm season but mostly in April and May. In late May to early June, after mating, the female finds an open sandy area to nest. She digs a hole about 6¾ deep and deposits her clutch of eggs. The clutch size about 10 eggs on average but may be from 6 to 21. The eggs are elliptical and about 1½ long. Hatchlings emerge from early August to mid-October. In mid-October Blanding’s turtles begin hibernating in muddy bottoms of deep marshes.

Hatchling mortality is high. Adults can survive 75 or more years. Females reach sexual maturity in 12 or more years.


The hinged plastron allows the turtle to close the front of its shell. The concave plastron on males facilitates mating.

It is the first turtle to submerge when disturbed and the last to emerge after being disturbed.

Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 7, 11, 14, 24, 29, 72.


Two classification schemes for the four turtles formerly included in the genus Clemmys have been proposed. In one scheme Blanding’s turtle and three other species are included in the genus Emys. In the other scheme Blanding’s turtle is the only species in the genus Emydoidea. Both names, Emydoidea blandingii and Emys blandingii, are currently (2014) in use in published sources both in print and online.



Testudines (turtles)



Cryptodira (hidden-necked turtles)






Emydidae (terrapins)





Cistuda blandingii

Cistudo blandingii

Emys blandingii

Emys twentei

Testudo flava

Testudo meleagris


Blanding’s turtle









The hard, upper (dorsal), shell-like covering (exoskeleton) of the body or at least the thorax of many arthropods and of turtles and tortoises.



The hard, lower (ventral), shell-like covering (exoskeleton) of the body of turtles and tortoises.



A hard, external scale that forms part of the exoskeleton; as on the belly of a snake, the upper and lower shells of hard-shelled turtles, and the foot of a bird.


Visitor Photos

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  Blanding’s turtle    

Brian Blom

  Blanding’s turtle   Blanding’s turtle

Christa Kluender

Found near my home. Left alone in same spot/direction. I think it may have been a male.

  Blanding’s turtle   Blanding’s turtle
  Blanding’s turtle    

Pamela Freeman

Found in road near my home. Re-located it in direction it was going.

  Blanding’s turtle    


  Blanding’s turtle   Blanding’s turtle
  Blanding’s turtle    





  Emydoidea blandingii (Blanding's Turtle)
Allen Chartier
  Emydoidea blandingii (Blanding's Turtle)  
  Blandings Turtle
  Blandings Turtle  




Visitor Videos

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Other Videos

  Blandings Turtle

Uploaded on May 26, 2009

Blandings Turtle. Notice the high shell and the yellow chin. Found this critter in central Minnesota in May 2009

  The Blanding's Turtle: Ontario Wildlife Video Series
Ryan M. Bolton

Published on Dec 4, 2012

Donation Page:

Educational video of the Blanding's Turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) and its conservation in Ontario, Canada.

Filmed, edited, and narrated by Ryan M. Bolton, MSc
The Art of Conservation

© Ryan M. Bolton
All imagery available for purchase with all proceeds donated to conservation endeavours around the world. Please contact at

Donated Music:
No Offense and Autumn Day by Kevin MacLeod
Used with a creative commons license:

Additional stock footage donated by Paul Whippey (fox pups) and Joe Vass (crayfish).

  BLANDING'S TURTLE (Emydoidea blandingii)

Published on Aug 17, 2012

Chris Leone of Garden State Tortoise presents: "BLANDING'S TURTLE"

A music video montage featuring a look at the life of one of North America's most fascinating species of fresh water turtle. To coincide with the release of REPTILES MAGAZINE'S October 2012 issue which displays a thorough article written by Chris about the Blanding's turtle, this video is a bonus for viewers already familiar with the species as well as an excellent briefing to those just finding out about them. Please spread the word and pass this video along to help educate the public on these beautiful but endangered turtles.

The song in the video is Chris Leone's own "Scream Through a Whisper" and can be found on the album "Live Like You Know What You're Leaving" by the band Wicker Hollow

  Blanding's Turtle (Emydoidea blandingii)

Published on Mar 13, 2013

Blanding's Turtle profile:

  Cool Science - Blanding's Turtle (Emydoidea blandingii)
Science North

Uploaded on Sep 14, 2010

Staff Scientist Bruce Doran talks about one of Ontario's native species-at-risk, the Blanding's turtle, with a little help from some of the animal ambassadors at Science North.

Read the entire Cool Science post:





Visitor Sightings

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Location: Lino Lakes

Blanding’s turtle

Brian Blom

Location: Crow Wing County, Crosby MN

Blanding’s turtle

Jeff Dick

Location: East Bethel

Crossing 222nd Ln NE, between Bataan St and Yancy St.  This was in a residential area.  Turtle's shell was domed shaped, dark colored, approx 9" long, with bright yellow chin/neck.  Had to pick it up and move it off the street.

Christa Kluender

Location: Ramsey, MN

Found near my home. Left alone in same spot/direction. I think it may have been a male.

Blanding’s turtle

Pamela Freeman

Location: Oak Grove – Cedar Creek Dr NW, 3520, outside of Cedar Creek Conservation Area, heading across road from 3520 to Conservation Area.

That was a rainy day, and I was coming home early from work and spotted a lump in the road just past our driveway. I got out of my car and walked up to it realizing it was a turtle, and not the usual snapper or painted we get frequently. I took photos of it, not sure, but thinking it looked a lot like a blandings turtle. I picked her up and took her in the direction she was headed, safely across and away from the road. When I went out to check her out about 15 minutes later she was gone. Our land, from where she apparently was coming from, is mostly marsh, with some upland and lowland wooded areas and small area of lawn surrounding the house. We have a few open areas, a wet meadow, and swale in the woods near the road.

She, I am assuming she, as turtles in the spring head out to lay eggs, was about 6 inches long, maybe. Not large, but not small.

She was very definitely a blandings, with the yellow on her shell. I took the photos and compared them to online images and it was a match.

Cedar Creek Conservation area is a large area newly designated as a conservation area. It is comprised of Cedar Creek, adjacent flood plain and marshes and lowlands, other marshy areas, at least one fen, some upland savannah, old fields and some remnant prairie and savannah areas, and an old farmstead plot and fields near the Rum River, which the park also tracks along for a while.

Blanding’s turtle






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