Species at Risk
What's so special about Nova Scotia's Blanding's turtles?
In Nova Scotia, the Blanding's turtle is one of our "southern relics" because the population is small, isolated and at the northeastern edge of its range. This reptile, and other southern relics such as water-pennywort, northern ribbon snake and southern flying squirrel, moved north during a warm period near the end of the last ice age. As the climate changed to what it is today, only the southwestern part of the province remained warm enough for these species to survive.
Hatchling turtles around a nest cavity
© Parks Canada / Peter Hope / 1991
Blanding's turtles can live to be more than 80 years. In Nova Scotia , these long-lived turtles do not reach sexual maturity until they are 18 to 24 years. They are the latest to mature within the species range. Other populations, living as close as Maine or southern Ontario and Quebec, mature as early as 14 to 20 years.
Blanding's turtles in Nova Scotia are genetically distinguishable from other Blanding's turtles in North America . This means they may make a large contribution to the genetic diversity of the species, because they have some unique behaviours and look slightly different from other Blanding's turtles.
Blanding's turtle on a rock
© Parks Canada / D. Cairns / 1978
In fact, the Nova Scotia population is composed of three sub-populations (Kejimkujik, McGowan, New Elm), each genetically distinguishable from the other. The three sub-populations do not seem to mix. Behavioural differences have also been observed among these populations.