Spotted turtle cryptic nesters

Markw84

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With nesting season fully in swing, there are lots of nesting turtles to watch for at the pond area. My favorite group of turtles is my spotted turtle - C. guttata - group. Some of the nests of my other turtles - I will often just leave in place to incubate naturally. However, I watch and try to catch all the spotted nests to incubate in a more controlled environment in my incubators. The problem is that the spotted turtles can be very cryptic in their nesting. It's easy to spot any other turtle (except the musk) nesting with a simple scan of all the pond areas. But spotted are often very hard to see when you first look unless you REALLY look.

See if you can spot a nesting turtle here in my upper pond area where they like to nest...

IMG_0273.JPG

This is a full size image so you can zoom in to see.

With a bit of the creeping jenny moved aside - here's a closer look in case you couldn't find her...

IMG_0272.JPG

I believe since they dig such shallow nests, they use the vegetation to help stabilize temperatures in the nest and shade it from direct sun. It obviously hides the nest well too and possibly gives more protection from predation.

No matter how hard we try to catch all the nests, we still end up with baby spotted emerging late fall/next spring in the pond from nests we miss!!
 

Yvonne G

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Wow, they get right under the plant material.
 

Tom

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I've always liked this species and I love learning about them. Thanks Mark!
 

Markw84

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Here's the same section of the upper pond at feeding time last night. About 1/2 the group already out and feeding in that one area. It's amazing how when someone comes to the upper pond, they get excited that they can see 2 or 3 spotted turtles - until I feed them. Within a few minutes, you can easily spot over 20. In this picture a young cooter and painted have found the upper pond has better food, and will hang out there. An old female musk is there also as a small 1.2 group of common musk make the upper pond their home. The razorback muck never come up here and stay in the much deeper, larger, lower pond.

All the turtles love mealworms, but I use them primarily for the spotteds. To help with the nutritional value of the mealworms, I buy 5000 at a time and keep them in a plastic bin. I throw in lots of Mazuri tortoise pellets and chopped cactus pads for food. The mealworms devour that food and end up with a much better nutritional value and great calcium source. The staple diet is Mazuri aquatic turtle pellets and Mazuri sinking carni-blend fish diet.

IMG_0280.jpg
 

wellington

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I did found him the second look thru. It wasn't easy. Sure have too be careful walking thru there to get the eggs so you don't step on one.
 

NorCal tortoise guy

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So cool!!! you must have lots of spotted babies every year with that many adults! I hope to work with spotted turtles one day do they do well out side year round in our area?
 

mark1

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very cool ...... if I ever could have another type of turtle it will be spotteds ...... my vet always tells me whenever he sees them , they seem to be his favorite also ........
 

Markw84

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So cool!!! you must have lots of spotted babies every year with that many adults! I hope to work with spotted turtles one day do they do well out side year round in our area?
Yes they do. I leave mine outside year round. I keep babies indoors their first full year and their second winter. In a "semi-natural" setting like this, it takes about 6 years for a male to mature and 8 years for a female - roughly.

Our weather is easily adapted to by spotteds. If anything, the extremely hot summers are the hardest. So a habitat needs plenty of shade and enough water volume to not heat up excessively. My pond will reach the low 80's on very hot summer days. The winter temps are absolutely no problem for them. Again, you need a pond set up properly as they are poor swimmers and prefer a negative buoyancy for walking the bottom. With winter cold water, this can be a problem if you don't have gently sloped sides they can walk out and plenty of plants they can use to climb to the surface. They prefer to brumate in the roots of plants in the water. A few will dig into the mud in the land area, but that is more the exception.
 

NorCal tortoise guy

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Yes they do. I leave mine outside year round. I keep babies indoors their first full year and their second winter. In a "semi-natural" setting like this, it takes about 6 years for a male to mature and 8 years for a female - roughly.

Our weather is easily adapted to by spotteds. If anything, the extremely hot summers are the hardest. So a habitat needs plenty of shade and enough water volume to not heat up excessively. My pond will reach the low 80's on very hot summer days. The winter temps are absolutely no problem for them. Again, you need a pond set up properly as they are poor swimmers and prefer a negative buoyancy for walking the bottom. With winter cold water, this can be a problem if you don't have gently sloped sides they can walk out and plenty of plants they can use to climb to the surface. They prefer to brumate in the roots of plants in the water. A few will dig into the mud in the land area, but that is more the exception.
Thanks for the great info!!
 

jake91hall

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May 9, 2018
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Windsor Ontario canada
With nesting season fully in swing, there are lots of nesting turtles to watch for at the pond area. My favorite group of turtles is my spotted turtle - C. guttata - group. Some of the nests of my other turtles - I will often just leave in place to incubate naturally. However, I watch and try to catch all the spotted nests to incubate in a more controlled environment in my incubators. The problem is that the spotted turtles can be very cryptic in their nesting. It's easy to spot any other turtle (except the musk) nesting with a simple scan of all the pond areas. But spotted are often very hard to see when you first look unless you REALLY look.

See if you can spot a nesting turtle here in my upper pond area where they like to nest...

View attachment 239265

This is a full size image so you can zoom in to see.

With a bit of the creeping jenny moved aside - here's a closer look in case you couldn't find her...

View attachment 239266

I believe since they dig such shallow nests, they use the vegetation to help stabilize temperatures in the nest and shade it from direct sun. It obviously hides the nest well too and possibly gives more protection from predation.

No matter how hard we try to catch all the nests, we still end up with baby spotted emerging late fall/next spring in the pond from nests we miss!!
I love it man....your lucky I'm in ontario and here they are listed as endangered and are illegal to own or poach obviously lol
 

jake91hall

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May 9, 2018
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Windsor Ontario canada
Here's the same section of the upper pond at feeding time last night. About 1/2 the group already out and feeding in that one area. It's amazing how when someone comes to the upper pond, they get excited that they can see 2 or 3 spotted turtles - until I feed them. Within a few minutes, you can easily spot over 20. In this picture a young cooter and painted have found the upper pond has better food, and will hang out there. An old female musk is there also as a small 1.2 group of common musk make the upper pond their home. The razorback muck never come up here and stay in the much deeper, larger, lower pond.

All the turtles love mealworms, but I use them primarily for the spotteds. To help with the nutritional value of the mealworms, I buy 5000 at a time and keep them in a plastic bin. I throw in lots of Mazuri tortoise pellets and chopped cactus pads for food. The mealworms devour that food and end up with a much better nutritional value and great calcium source. The staple diet is Mazuri aquatic turtle pellets and Mazuri sinking carni-blend fish diet.

View attachment 239268
where abouts do you live?
 
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