Spotted Turtle


Scientific Name: Clemmys guttata
Size: 3.5 – 5.4” (adult carapace length)
Status: Uncommon to rare throughout Great Lakes range; tend to occur in isolated populations surrounded by unoccupied or unsuitable habitat
Spotted Turtle



Shallow ponds, wet meadows, tamarack swamps, bogs, fens, marsh channels, sphagnum seepages, and slow streams. Most likely to be found in clear, shallow water with mud or muck bottom and ample aquatic and emergent vegetation.

Adult Coloration:

Carapace brownish black or black with rounded yellow spots that are highly variable in number and may darken or fade with age. Usually at least a few spots on mostly black head. Outer surfaces of legs black, usually with a few yellow spots, while lower legs, neck, and other soft parts often orange or pinkish, mottled with black. Plastron usually yellow or orange with black blotch on outer portion of each scute; sometimes black may cover most or all of plastron, especially in males. Males have brown eyes and dark chin, while females have orange eyes and yellowish or orange chin.

Adult Characteristics:

Carapace smooth and unkeeled, slightly compressed and elongate in males and broader and higher in females. Plastron is concave in males and flat or slightly convex in females.

Juvenile Characteristics:

Average carapace length 1.14,” with usually just one spot per carapace scute. Carapace black and plastron yellowish orange with central dark blotch. Growth rings (annuli) in carapace scutes more conspicuous than in adults.

Species Confused With:

Blanding’s turtles may have similar yellow spotting on dark head and carapace, but spots are smaller and more numerous, and entire chin, throat, and lower neck are solid yellow.


  • Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region by Jim Harding
  • Harding, J.H. and J.A. Holman. 1990. Michigan Turtles and Lizards. MSU Cooperative Extension Service and MSU Museum. 96 pp.
  • Ruthven, A. G., H. B. T. Gaige, et al. 1912. The herpetology of Michigan, by Alexander B. Ruthven. Crystal Thompson and Helen Thompson; Memoranda towards a bibliography of the archaeology of Michigan, by Harlan I. Smith; prepared under the direction of Alexander G. Ruthven. Lansing, Mich., Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford, State Printers.
  • Holman, J. A. 2012. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Michigan: A Quaternary and Recent Faunal Adventure. Detroit, Mich., Wayne State University Press.
  • Conant, R., and Collins, J. T. 1998. Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern, Central North America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Press.