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11 Species of Turtles Found in Connecticut (Photos)

Did you know that the United States is home to more native turtle species than any other country? And several of these species call Connecticut their home. According to Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, there are 11 different species of turtles in Connecticut. Keep reading to learn more about the turtles you could potentially see in the state of Connecticut. 

11 Turtles in Connecticut

Out of the 11 species of turtles in Connecticut, 3 of them are sea turtles and the other 8 are freshwater. While the majority of these turtles are mostly aquatic, some of them will venture onto land every now and again. 

1. Snapping Turtle

Snapping turtle resting
Snapping turtle resting

Scientific Name: Chelydra serpentina

Snapping turtles are one of the more dangerous turtles that have the ability to bite hard. They can also be aggressive if they feel threatened. Snapping turtles are semi-aquatic animals, but can be seen on land every so often. In most cases, they are more likely to bite when on land due to them feeling vulnerable.

2. Musk Turtle

Common Musk Turtle 
Common musk turtle (similar species) | image: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region

Scientific Name: Sternotherus odoratus

Musk turtles are a small species that is often kept as a pet, even though they can be a bit aggressive. As their name suggests, musk turtles let out an unpleasant odor when they feel threatened. Some people describe this odor as similar to body odor. 

3. Bog Turtle

Bog turtle sunning
Bog turtle sunning | image by R. G. Tucker, Jr./USFWS via Wikimedia Commons

Scientific Name: Glyptemys muhlenbergii

Bog turtles are small, measuring only about 3 to 4 inches long, and not often seen in nature. They are found in various wetland areas of Connecticut’s marble valley region. 

4. Wood Turtle

Woodturtle on the ground
Woodturtle on the ground | image by Ltshears via Wikimedia Commons

Scientific Name: Glyptemys insculpta

Wood turtles measure between 4 and 8 inches long and are brown in color. Their shell is rough and resembles a piece of wood, thus their name. 

Wood turtles are semi-aquatic creatures that spend the summer, fall, and winter in the water. In the spring, however, they can be seen basking in the sun along the river banks.

5. Eastern Box Turtle

Eastern box turtle
Eastern box turtle | Image by JamesDeMers from Pixabay

Scientific Name: Terrapene carolina carolina

Box turtles are terrestrial, spending their lives on land. They are docile creatures that rarely bite and are often taken in as pets when found along roadways. Even though they are terrestrial, box turtles may make their way to wetlands during the warmer months.

6. Eastern Painted Turtle

Eastern painted turtle
Eastern painted turtle | image by Greg Schechter via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Chrysemys picta picta

Painted turtles are usually aquatic animals but will emerge from the water to bask in the sun. Females of this species will also come onto land in late spring to early summer to lay their eggs. 

While they can be found in a wide array of aquatic environments, painted turtles prefer waters with plenty of vegetation, which they use for foraging and cover.

7. Northern Diamondback Terrapin

Northern diamondback terrapin
Northern diamondback terrapin | image by Zihao Wang via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 4.0

Scientific Name: Malaclemys terrapin terrapin

The Northern diamondback terrapin gets its name from the diamond markings on the back of its shell. These turtles thrive in the coastal aquatic areas in Connecticut, but females of the species will head inland to lay their eggs. 

8. Loggerhead Sea Turtle

Loggerhead sea turtle
Loggerhead sea turtle | image by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region via Flickr

Scientific Name: Caretta caretta

The loggerhead is a sea turtle that has the ability to reach up to 1,000 pounds but has an average weight of 170 to 350 pounds. They are both listed as state and federally endangered thanks to over-harvesting and human destruction of their habitat. Other reasons for their decline include boat propellers and litter in the ocean, both of which can be extremely deadly to sea turtles.

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9. Leatherback Sea Turtle

Leatherback sea turtle
Leatherback sea turtle | image by Bernard DUPONT via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Dermochelys coriacea

Leatherback sea turtles are large, reaching weights of between 650 to 1,200 pounds. They are found on the continental shelf near the edge.

They are endangered because of overharvesting and human ignorance. Over development of nesting areas is also responsible for the decline in leatherbacks. 

10. Atlantic Ridley Sea Turtle

Atlantic ridley sea turtle
Atlantic ridley sea turtle | image by USFWS Endangered Species via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Lepidochelys kempii

The Atlantic Ridley sea turtle is another endangered species that is found in Connecticut’s coastal waters. Their decline is attributed to overharvesting of turtle eggs and turtle products. Oil spills and beach development are also to blame for this species being endangered.

11. Spotted Turtle

spotted turtle resting
Spotted turtle resting | image by Chiara Coetzee via Flickr

Scientific Name: Clemmys guttata

The Spotted turtles are small, measuring no more than 4.5 inches long. They are not often seen thanks to their small size and excellent ability to stay hidden. The spotted turtle has a vast habitat, moving from the wetlands to the land during the summer and then back to the wetlands in the fall to hibernate. 

Honorable mention

The Atlantic green sea turtle has not yet been spotted along the shores of Connecticut, but it’s possible that this species passes through the waters during its migrations.

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