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Species at Risk

Blanding's Turtle

Emydoidea blandingii

Why is the Blanding's turtle in danger?

A stream filled with lily pads
A stream filled with lily pads
© Parks Canada / James Steeves / 2002

Outside Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site, the greatest threat to Blanding's turtles is habitat loss. Human development and industry (dams, forestry, agriculture, roads, cottage and residential development) have the potential to destroy and fragment important habitats for these turtles.

These turtles use their habitats in very special ways, which makes them extremely sensitive to change. They live in peaty, slow-flowing streams. Nesting areas must be open and/or south facing and have a gravel base. In the winter, these turtles gather in small areas. They return every year to these same nesting and overwintering sites.

Unlike some freshwater turtles, Blanding's turtles can swallow holding their head above or below water!

These sites may be used by many turtles or may be in short supply, and are small enough to be accidentally destroyed. If these areas are destroyed, it could seriously affect the Nova Scotia population.

Females who nest inland, often on roadsides, run the risk of being hit by a car. However, the hatchlings that emerge from the roadside nests are more prone to becoming roadkill casualties, because drivers cannot see them.

 

The Raccoon - the main predator of turtles
The Raccoon - the main predator of turtles
© Parks Canada / James Steeves / 2002

Nests are buried in the ground and can be destroyed by vehicles, excavation, flooding and predators. Raccoons are the main predator of these turtles, eating both young turtles and their eggs. Human garbage attracts raccoons, which means their numbers increase in the park. The more raccoons, the more threat to the turtles.


A nest enclosure that has been flooded by high water
A nest enclosure that has been flooded by high water
© Parks Canada / Duncan Smith / 2003

Inconsistent summer weather means fewer turtle hatchlings survive because adequate heat is needed to fully develop the young turtles. Also, natural flooding in the fall and controlled flooding for hydropower are potential dangers for the survival of beach nests.

Another concern is the small proportion of juveniles and young adults in the population. This means there are fewer numbers of turtles reaching the age when they can reproduce. Surveys show that most turtles are over 30 years of age. Although in recent years, as a result of active management and improved survey methods, hatchlings' survival rate seems to have improved.