Blandings Turtle

2016 July 2

On our trip downstate, we stopped by to visit Sandy’s brother in Whitmore Lake on June 15, 2016. There was a little park just down the street from his house, and while we were walking down there with the girls, somebody noticed that one of the houses had something unusual in their yard. At first we thought it was a lawn ornament, but then realized that it was actually a pretty big turtle. Not wanting to be trespassers, Sandy and Sam went up to the house, rang the bell, and when the owner came to the door asked him, “Can we come into your yard to look at the turtle there?”

He looked rather taken aback by this question. “The what?”

So we pointed out the turtle. The homeowner was by this time just as curious as the girls, so we all went over to see it. Here is Sam holding it.


From the color pattern on its underside, it looks like a Blanding’s Turtle, Emys blandingii.


The spotting on the back is evidently very variable, but they always have those black-and-cream markings on the underside, and they also have a yellow chin.


One thing we found out is that something they do in self-defense would probably be best described as “projectile urination”. It shot out a stream of urine that looked like it was about the diameter of a pencil. Luckily it mostly missed Sam, but it had enough volume that it could really soak one’s clothing with a direct hit.

It was most likely a female looking for a place to lay eggs, which it wasn’t going to find in the middle of a mostly-paved subdivision like that. And, if we didn’t do anything, it was likely to wander out into the street and get run over, which would have been very sad.


So we took it back to Sandy’s brother’s place, which is adjacent to an abandoned field with a small pond in it, lifted up the fence, and sent it on its way out into the field. Hopefully, it is much better off back there.

Blanding’s turtles occur all around the Great Lakes region, but are considered endangered in most areas outside of Michigan. Within Michigan, they are still moderately common in the Lower Peninsula, although they are protected by law as a Species of Special Concern. They mostly eat things like crayfish, tadpoles, and aquatic insects, so overall their diet doesn’t sound too different from the snapping turtle that I posted last week.

One Response
  1. Anne Galt permalink
    June 23, 2017

    Would it be okay to use the third photo (or second from the bottom) picture as the reference for a drawing? The Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre would like to use my artwork as a fundraiser. They need money(!) and Blanding’s turtles are threatened in Ontario, where I live. Thanks very much for considering this!

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