Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Species of the Day: Bog Turtle
Scientific Name: Glyptemys (Clemmys) muhlenbergii
Adult Size: 3 to 4 inches long
Range: Eastern United States
Habitat: Bogs, swamps, marshes and wooded areas with a combination of wet and dry, open and canopied, with low growing vegetation and soft ground.
With conspicuous orange blotches on each temple, the diminutive bog turtle is one of the most distinctive turtles in North American. Sometimes referred to as the Muhlenberg's turtle, is also one of the rarest and possibly most endangered. Populations have dwindled greatly due to habitat destruction, collecting for the pet industry and predation. Bog Turtles are now federally protected from collection over virtually all their ranges. Fortunately, there are a handful of captive breeding groups, and their captive-bred Bog Turtles have proven adaptable and hardy. Seldom exceeding four inches in length, the Bog Turtle is one of the smallest species of turtle in the world.
Adequate space is very important for any aquatic turtle. One or two Bog Turtles can be kept in a 40 gallon tank at the minimum, but the more space you can give them the better. Cleanliness is essential for the health of these turtles, so expect to be spending quite a bit on quality filters and maintenance. A half land half water set-up is best. Male bog turtles may show aggression towards each other and are best kept separately. Soft substrate such as leaf litter or fine mulch, is preferable for the terrestrial portion of the habitat, as well as some sort of cover for hiding and sleeping such as hollow logs or a clay flower pots cut in half. Substrate for the aquatic section is not necessary, but areas of varying water depth should be provided. Any water deeper than the length of the shell should be avoided to prevent drowning. Although some keepers have found it possible to maintain Bog Turtles at constant temperatures year round, it is preferable to replicate seasonal variations for optimum health and fertility. Simulating seasonal fluctuation can be achieved by using adjustable light timers and heaters.
Additionally, the basking habit is well developed in Bog Turtles, so a basking spot should be provided with unimpeded exposure to a good source of UVB lighting. In general, water temperatures ranging from 65 to 75 degrees F, air temperatures ranging from 75 to 85 degrees F and basking temperatures ranging from 85 to 90 degrees F should result in happy, healthy and active Bog Turtles. The Bog Turtle is an omnivore, with a slight preference for animal matter. Insects are the predominant menu item for wild Bog Turtles, but they will also feed on berries and several plant species. Captive Bog Turtles will readily accept commercial pellets, a variety of insects, earthworms, thawed frozen pinky mice and chopped fish. Additionally they will also consume strawberries, melons, grapes and occasionally green leafy vegetables. A ratio of about 2 to 3 animal matter to 1 to 3 vegetable matter should provide an adequate variety to their diets, with vitamin and calcium supplements can be added in moderation.