Turtles For sale in Ohio
In the following post, I note the distinguishing characteristics of Ohio’s turtle species, plus the counties in which they’ve been sighted.
Midland Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta marginata)
If you’ve seen a turtle basking in the sun in Ohio, and you’re wondering what kind of turtle it is, the odds are that it’s a Midland Painted Turtle.
This is one of the most common turtles in Ohio, plus it’s easy to spot because it enjoys basking on logs or other objects near the water’s surface. To make it even more noticeable, it often basks in groups.
The carapace (upper shell) of the Midland Painted Turtle reaches between 4.5 and 5.5 inches in length, and it’s very dark green (nearly black). The turtle gets it’s “painted” characteristic from the bright red markings along the outer edge of its shell. The head typically has yellow stripes which may become red near the shell. The legs may also have red stripes.
Since 1976 Midland Painted Turtles have been sighted in the following Ohio counties: Adams, Ashtabula, Athens, Belmont, Brown, Butler, Champaign, Clark, Darke, Delaware, Geaugua, Guernsey, Hamilton, Knox, Lake, Licking, Lorain, Lucas, Marion, Medina, Miami, Morrow, Ottawa, Pickaway, Pike, Portage, Preble, Summit, Trumbull, Vinton, Wayne, Williams. Prior to 1976 the turtle was sighted in additional counties.
Red-eared Slider ( Trachemys scripta elegans)
Red-eared Slider with peeling shell (for more information about turtles shedding the outer layer of their shells, click here). Note that this turtle does not have red markings along the side edges of its shell. There’s also no red on the underside of its throat or on its legs.
Same red-eared slider, viewed from the front.
The carapace (upper shell) of the Red-eared Slider reaches 5 to 8 inches in length. Although the yellowish lines found on our Midland Painted Turtle may turn reddish near the shell and be mistaken for a “red ear”, here are a couple of things to keep in mind to distinguish the two. The carapace of a Midland Painted Turtle is an almost uniform, dark color with red spots around the edge (when seen from above). But the carapace of the Red-eared slider is lighter, and more variable in color with lighter brownish green areas and no red spots around its edge. If you look at the limbs of a Midland Painted Turtle, you’ll note that there is typically some red on the turtles legs. This is not true of the Red-eared Slider. And finally if you note the counties where the two species have been seen, you’ll see that the distribution of the Midland Painted Turtle is much more wide in Ohio.
The Red-eared Slider is a native to the Southern United States. It is believed that the ones found in Ohio are the offspring of pets that were released into the wild. Doing this is a really bad idea. In California where the Red-eared Slider was released, it is in the process of out-competing the native western pond turtle.
Since 1976 Red-eared Slider Turtles have been sighted in the following Ohio counties: Butler, Greene, Hamilton, Licking, Mahoning, Pickaway, Summit.
Spotted Turtle ( Clemmys guttata)
The carapace (upper shell) of these turtles is usually between 3 and 4.7 inches. The background color of the shell varies from black to a bluish-black. The shell is sprinkled with yellow dots. It prefers to live in shallow wetlands and small streams, but may also be found in wet prairies and woods.
Since 1976 Spotted Turtles have been sighted in the following Ohio counties: Ashtabula, Clark, Cuyahoga, Greene, Hardin, Lucas, Ross, Trumbull, Warren. Their historic range included additional counties.
Wood Turtle ( Clemmys insculpta)
If you see a wild turtle in Ohio, it’s probably not this species. Apparently a few specimens have been seen in northeastern Ohio, but we’re on the fringe of its range.
The carapace (upper shell) ranges from 6.3 to 9.8 inches long and is brown to grayish-brown in color. The head is black (it may or may not have spots on it). The throat may have a yellow, orange or red tint. They may be found in diverse habitats, but they prefer moving water with sand or gravel bottoms.
Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina)
This Eastern Box Turtle thinks he’s hiding under these sticks.
The carapace (upper shell) has a very high dome and reaches between 4.5 and 6 inches in length. The color of the upper shell varies; the background color it typically brown to black with yellow markings. The plastron (lower shell) has hinges in the front and back which allows the turtle to completely withdraw into its shell and shut the doors behind it. The ability to close itself within its “box” is how it got its name.
This is Ohio’s most terrestrial turtle which puts it at risk of being hit by cars as it tries to make its way slowing across a road. If it manages to avoid this fate, it is a very slow-maturing, but long-lived turtle. In the wild it can reach 100 years of age.
During the summer it keeps cool during the day by hiding in the shade or burrowing into leaf litter. It’s most active early in the morning and in the evening. If we’ve been having a dry spell, a rainy day will bring it out.
Since 1976 Spotted Turtles have been sighted in the following Ohio counties: Adams, Athens, Belmont, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Cuyahoga, Erie, Franklin, Gallia, Greene, Guernsey, Jackson, Hamilton, Hocking, Knox, Meigs, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Pickaway, Pike, Preble, Ross, Scioto, Vinton, Warren, Washington. Their historic range included additional counties.
Blanding’s Turtle (Emydoidea blandingii)
According to Wikipedia, the carapace (upper shell) ranges from 7.1 to 9.1 inches, but the Ohio Division of Wildlife says it ranges from 5 to 7 inches. Like the Eastern Box Turtle described above, the plastron (lower shell) has hinges in front and back, but the front hinge doesn’t work as well, so the Blanding’s Turtle can’t close up the front of its shell completely. The carapace has a dark background color with yellow specks. One of its most notable features is its yellow chin and throat.
In Ohio, Blanding’s Turtle is found in wetlands near Lake Erie. Occasionally it is seen walking overland from one wetland to another. Since 1976 it has been found in these Ohio counties: Cuyahoga, Erie, Lucas, Ottawa. In historic times it has been found in additional counties in Ohio’s northernmost regions.
Common Map Turtle ( Graptemys geographica)
The female attains a length that’s about twice as big as the male. The carapace (upper shell) of the female gets to be about 10 inches long, while the male only makes it to about 5 inches. One very notable feature of the carapace is that there is a ridge running along the back from neck to tail. They are called “map” turtles because there are yellow lines on its back that are similar to those found on topographical maps. These lines are pronounced when the turtle is young, but they tend to fade away as the turtle grows older. The heads and limbs have yellow stripes.
These turtles like deep water, so they are typically found in lakes and large rivers. They are very wary about people and will quickly slip away into deeper water if a person draws close. They are the least likely turtle to be hibernating in the winter and have been spotted walking around under the ice.
Since 1976 Spotted Turtles have been sighted in the following Ohio counties: Adams, Columbiana, Marion, Ottawa, Pickaway, Williams. Their historic range included additional counties, such as Delaware where I photographed the turtle with algae on its back seen above.
Ouachita Map Turtle ( Graptemys ouachitensis)
Like the Common Map Turtle, the female Ouachita Map Turtle grows much larger than the male. The carapace (upper shell) of the female can reach a length of 10.75 inches while the male’s carapace reaches a length of 5.75 inches. Also like the Common Map Turtle there is a yellow blob behind each eye. Unlike the Common Map Turtle, the Ouachita Map Turtle also has a yellow blob under each eye and on each side of its jaw. The two species of map turtle are also similar in that both species have a ridge on their carapaces that runs from neck to tail. However this ridge is somewhat different in the Ouachita Map turtle because its ridge has spines.