Ontario is home to eight different species of turtle. Seven turtle species have been designated as Species at Risk. Three species of turtle (in bold) are found in the Jack Lake watershed.
Status of Ontario turtles
Blandings Turtle (Emydoidea blandingii)
Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina)
Midland Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta)
Northern Map Turtle (Graptemys geographica)
Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)
Spiny Softshell (Apalone spinifera spinifera)
Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata)
Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta)
On a provincial basis, turtle observations are stored in the Ontario Herpetofaunal Survey database (Crowley undated). Prior to 2014 there were records of 4 Blandings turtles, 8 snapping turtles and 10 midland painted turtles in that database. Members of the Jack lake Association have sporadically contributed to this database over the years but a concerted effort was initiated in 2014 to solicit volunteers from around the lake to report turtle observations. Over the past three years (2014-2016) JLA volunteers have made a substantial contribution (recorded observations of 155 individual turtles) to the knowledge of the distribution and general status of turtles in the Jack Lake watershed. Individual observations, combined with data from the Ontario Herpetofaunal Survey, have been summarized by Kerr (2016).
Turtle Observations from the Jack Lake area (Square 17QK35). Data was derived from the Ontario Herpetofaunal Survey supplemented by observations from volunteers of the Jack Lake Association.
2014: 2 Blandings, 32 Painted, 12 Snapping
2015: 3 Blandings, 58 Painted, 20 Snapping
2016: 5 Blanding, 14 Painted, 16 Snapping
Submitted by Steve Kerr, Jack Lake
About two weeks ago, in the northeastern part of Peterborough County, I saw the following species. APRIL 14: Hubble Road – 3 Eastern Comma butterflies; Sandy Lake Road – 1 Eastern Comma and 1 Mourning Cloak. APRIL 15: Charlie Allan Road – 6 Compton Tortiseshell; Galway/Cavendish Forest Access Road – 4 Eastern Comma, 2 Mourning Cloak, 2 Compton Tortiseshell and 46 Painted Turtles; Cedarwood Drive – 1 Compton Tortiseshell; Pencil Lake Road – 1 Mourning Cloak; Lou Philips Drive – 1 Mourning Cloak
Today, May 16, I saw two tiny Painted Turtles (hatchlings) on the Trans-Canada Trail east of the bridge at Lily Lake in the west end of Peterborough.
Note: Baby Painted Turtles hatch out of eggs in the fall but don’t actually emerge fromj the ground until the following spring. They spend their first winter in the “nest.” All subsequent winters, however, are spent at the bottom of a pond or other body of water. According to Wikimedia, “The hatchling’s ability to survive winter in the nest has allowed the Painted Turtle to extend its range further north than any other Northe American turtle. The turtle is genetically adapted to survive extended periods of subfreezing temperatures with blood that can remain supercooled and skin that resists penetration from ice crystals in the surrounding ground.” D.M.
I was riding on the trail today in Jackson Park near the new bridge and helped move some baby turtles from the trail to the banks of Jackson Creek. They were about the size of a loonie and covered in mud. I think they were baby ‘snappers.’ Isn’t this early for turtle hatchlings?
Barry Diceman, Peterborough
I think they were probably baby Midland Painted Turtles. Although the eggs hatch in the fall, baby painted turtles usually remain in the nest – underground – until the following spring, when they emerge. They are able to use sugar-based “anti-freeze” compounds to avoid freezing to death. However, they can only do this once. All subsequent winters are spent at the bottom of ponds. I have never heard of Snapping Turtles being able to overwinter in the ground, but I suppose it may be possible. All turtle eggs hatch in the fall as I know.