Turtles in New Hampshire

Turtles in New Hampshire – 9 Species That are Found Here

New Hampshire is home to 9 turtle species. Seven out of these turtles are native to the state. The snapping turtles and painted turtles are native to the state and are widespread across the state.

Some of the native species like Blanding’s turtle, wood turtle, box turtle, and spotted turtle are labeled as vulnerable or endangered. And they’ve been put under the need for conservation in the New Hampshire Wildlife Action Plan.

Non-native species in NH include the red-eared sliders and mainly result from the release of pets into the wild.

Discover below the full list of turtle species in New Hampshire. We have shared key facts about each species like physical appearance, average adult size, what they eat, where they live, lifespan, and conservation status.

9 Types Of Turtles in New Hampshire

Contents

1. Common Snapping Turtle

 Common Snapping Turtle in New Hampshire
  • Scientific name: Chelydra serpentina
  • Common name: Snapping Turtle
  • Family: Chelydridae
  • Size: 8 to 18 1/2 inches
  • Lifespan: 30 to 50 years or more
  • Conservation status: Least Concern

Common snapping turtles are widespread throughout New Hampshire. An average adult is pretty large and has a shell length of 18½ inches long.

This species has a chunky head, a long tail, and large webbed feet. The shell color is black or olive and has no distinct pattern. These New Hampshire snapping turtles are known for their powerful jaws—they’re so strong that these turtles eat other turtles!

You’ll find them in waterbodies with muddy bottoms. Examples include marshes, ponds, lakes, rivers, and even shallow streams. They generally prefer waters with aquatic vegetation in plenty and foods such as fish, frogs, birds, etc.

These New Hampshire turtles generally show docile behavior but can get quite aggressive if taken out of water. The best way to calm it is to take it back to the waters, where it feels safe.

2. Painted Turtles

 Painted Turtles in New Hampshire
  • Scientific name: Chrysemys picta
  • Common name: Painted Turtle
  • Family: Emydidae
  • Size: 4 to 6 inches
  • Lifespan: 30 to 50 years
  • Conservation status: Least Concern

New Hampshire is home to two painted turtle subspecies—namely the Eastern Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta picta) and Midland Painted turtle (Chrysemys picta marginata).

The two subspecies tend to overlap in New Hampshire’s central areas. The eastern painted turtle is more dominant in the southern counties. None of the species lives in the northern regions.

It is difficult to tell apart the two species. However, the eastern painted turtle has scutes running in line of straight rows with pale front edges, unlike other painted turtle species. The Midland species is defined by dark, shadow-like patches at the center of its plastron.

The two painted turtle species in New Hampshire tend to live near water bodies with minimal movements. Examples include marshes, ponds, slow-moving streams with sandy/muddy bottoms, small lakes, etc.

They also prefer areas with aquatic plants in plenty as they make their primary food source in the wild.

One interesting fact about these New Hampshire turtles is their ability to hold their breath for up to 30 hours when inside temperate water. Moreover, they’re capable of standing dominant in freezing cold waters for up to 4 months.

3. Spiny Softshell Turtle

 Spiny Softshell Turtle in New Hampshire
  • Scientific name: Apalone spinifera
  • Common name: Spiny Softshell Turtle
  • Family: Trionychidae
  • Size: 5 to 9 inches (males), 12 to 20 inches (females)
  • Lifespan: 30 to 70 years
  • Conservation status: Least Concern

The Spiny softshell turtle is a medium-to-large freshwater species that live in New Hampshire’s lakes, streams, and rivers with muddy or sandy bottoms and little or no vegetation.

Female spiny softshell turtles are usually larger than males. And unlike other turtles, this species has a flexible, leather-like carapace that’s extremely rounded and flattened. The shell color can be olive grey or yellow-brown.

Just like other softshell turtles, this species also has a snorkel-like snout.

The young ones feature well-defined round spots that are easily visible on the shell (though these spots become invisible as they transition to adulthood).

Spiny softshell turtles in New Hampshire tend to eat anything they find in the waters including crayfish, insects, small fish, and so on. They hunt by burying themselves in the mud or sand while keeping their head uncovered to grab food as it swims by.

These turtles are also able to breathe underwater by taking in oxygen through their throat skin. This is a useful adaptation given that they don’t spend a lot of time out of water.

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Other adaptations of these turtles include webbed feed, long claws, and extremely flat shells that enable them to quickly swim away from predators and burry in the muddy bottom of the waters they reside in.

4. Common Musk Turtle

 Common Musk Turtle in New Hampshire
  • Scientific name: Sternotherus odoratus
  • Common name: Common Musk Turtle, Eastern Musk Turtle, Musk Turtle, Stinkpot
  • Family: Kinosternidae
  • Size: 2 to 4.5 inches
  • Lifespan: 30 to 50 years
  • Conservation status: Least Concern

The Common Musk Turtle is another aquatic turtle found in New Hampshire’s slow-moving and sluggish streams as well as still water bodies.

The turtle usually prefers areas with dark crevices, where it can easily hide. It also prefers lots of plant matter to burrow in and hide.

An average adult eastern musk turtle is quite small (2 to 4.5 inches long). It has a pretty plain appearance with highly consistent colors. Both the shell and skin usually share the same color and can range from dark brown to black.

The turtle shell has one unique feature—a ridge traversing its entire shell length. Besides, it has another distinctive feature: two light-colored stripes on its head.

Common musk turtles of New Hampshire are herbivorous and will eat small aquatic or semi-aquatic animals, carrion, and aquatic vegetation. They will also feed on any other vegetation on land.

When it feels threatened, this musk turtle species emits a foul odor (a musky odor, hence its name). This scent can be detected in water or on land. It can also easily waft through the air to its predators.

Also, these New Hampshire turtles are good at climbing trees! This great capability enables them to go high up tree branches to find a safe resting place and avoid predators.

Also read: Turtles in Kentucky

5. Spotted Turtle

 Spotted Turtle in New Hampshire
  • Scientific name: Clemmys guttata
  • Common name: Spotted Turtle
  • Family: Emydidae
  • Size: 4 to 5 inches
  • Lifespan: 25 to 50 years
  • Conservation status: Endangered

Spotted turtles in New Hampshire reside in shallow marshes, swamps, and bogs. They’re semi-aquatic and are comfortable on the land just as they are in the waters.

An adult spotted turtle has a smooth upper shell that ranges from olive to dark brown in color, with some light yellow spots. The neck and head feature irregular orange or yellow spots and streaks. Also, their tails are fairly long.

The turtles are omnivorous and their diet involves crustaceans, mollusks, insects, and plant matter (occasionally). Note that these turtles are aggressive hunters and will actively seek their prey.

Unfortunately, the population of spotted turtles in New Hampshire is on the decline due to human interference and habitat loss. Their unique shell patterns make them a favorite species of a pet turtle for many people.

For this reason, they’re listed as endangered and protected by many governing bodies. In New Hampshire state, you can only own ONE spotted turtle and not more than that!

Above all, the spotted turtles of New Hampshire are incredibly smart. Studies carried on them using a maze indicate they have the same brain capacity as the mouse!

6. Blanding’s Turtle

 Blanding’s Turtle in New Hampshire
  • Scientific name: Emydoidea blandingii
  • Common name: Blanding’s Turtle
  • Family: Emydidae
  • Size: 5 to 8 inches
  • Lifespan: up to 80 years (or more!)
  • Conservation status: Endangered

Blanding’s Turtle is also known as the “turtle that smiles” and is named in honor of William Blanding, the American naturalist.

The species is semi-aquatic and is categorized under endured species in New Hampshire. It is mainly concentrated in the northern half of this state, but its population is quite scattered—making it hard to find.

Blanding turtle has a dark oval shell covered with faint yellow speckles. The lower side of its shell is usually yellow with black patches.

Blanding’s turtle in New Hampshire prefers living in marshy habitats. And the fact that it’s losing these favorite habitats is one of the reasons causing its population to decline fast.

Because this turtle species in New Hampshire is omnivorous, it feeds on leatherworks, crayfish, and aquatic invertebrates.

It also occasionally feeds on plants and doesn’t rely on water to help it sallow its food as it’s the case with most turtle species.

See also  Types of Painted Turtles

7. Wood Turtle

 Wood Turtle in New Hampshire
  • Scientific name: Glyptemys insculpta
  • Common name: Wood turtle, Sculptured Tortoise, Redleg, Red-legged Tortoise
  • Family: Emydidae
  • Size: 5.5 to 8 inches
  • Lifespan: 40 to 60 years
  • Conservation status: Endangered

Wood turtle species also inhabit the various woodland habitats across New Hampshire state. However, they also tend to stay near the water and will frequently venture into it.

During winter, they tend to hibernate at the bottom of deep rivers and pools.

The turtles get their name from their sculpted-like looks. Their upper shells are dark brown and have sport patterns resembling wood grain and growth rings.

Their scutes may sometimes appear like they’re pyramiding, further enhancing their sculpted shape.

Wood turtles of New Hampshire are diurnal omnivores and their diet mainly consists of berries, plants, insects, and mollusks.

They forage for their food widely and have even been observed stomping their feet on the ground as a way of tricking the earthworms into surfacing.

8. Red-eared Slider

 Red-eared Slider in New Hampshire
  • Scientific name: Trachemys scripta
  • Common name: Red-eared Slider, Red-eared Terrapin
  • Family: Emydidae
  • Size: 7 to 11 inches
  • Lifespan: 30 to 40 years
  • Conservation status: Least Concern

The red-eared slider is a subspecies of pond sliders and a non-native species of New Hampshire. It is a semi-aquatic turtle and prefers living in marshes, ponds, lakes, and creeks.

A red-eared slider gets its name from the small red stripe surrounding its ears (or behind the eye), and its ability to quickly slide off logs and rocks into the water.

Generally, the skin and shell coloration of this slider can be brown or black, with yellow stripes covering the skin.

The red-eared sliders of New Hampshire are pretty large and the adults reach 7-12 in length (though females are generally larger than males).

These New Hampshire pond sliders are omnivorous and like eating fish, snails, insects, and aquatic vegetation. They also eat land vegetation, including fruits and vegetables.

9. Eastern Box Turtle

 Eastern Box Turtle in New Hampshire
  • Scientific name: Terrapene carolina
  • Common name: Eastern Box Turtle, Land turtle, Box Turtle
  • Family: Emydidae
  • Size: 4.5 and 7 inches
  • Lifespan: 50 to 100 years
  • Conservation status: Vulnerable

The eastern box turtles are also present in New Hampshire. They prefer these areas due to abundant access to sunlight and food sources nearby.

An adult turtle of this species is about 4.5 to 7 inches and weighs just 2lbs. It has a high, domed shell shape with a ridge running from head to toe. The shell of this turtle has varying colors of olive, brown, and tan.

The variation in markings on the shells of these turtles is so variable that you can’t easily recognize one by looking at the shell alone.

These eastern box turtles of New Hampshire are omnivorous and feed on a variety of foods including insects, meat, fruits, vegetables, and various types of vegetation.

Note that eastern box turtles are taken from the New Hampshire wild for pet trade, leading to a decline in their population. For this reason, many states have illegalized capturing and selling of this species.

And those in captivity end up dying due to poor conditions or being abandoned or released back into the wild because they’re too demanding to maintain.

Related: Turtles in Minnesota

Conclusion

So, these are the turtle species of New Hampshire. The state is home to 7 native turtle species including Blanding’s turtle, eastern box turtle, common musk turtle, eastern and midland painted turtles, common snapping turtle, wood turtle, and spotted turtle.

The common snapping turtle is the most widespread of the native species across the state. Species like the Blanding’s, wood, spotted, and box turtles are labeled as vulnerable or threatened and are under special monitoring in the state.

Read-eared slider is one of the non-native species that found its way into the New Hampshire state as a result of pet releases into the wild.

Hopefully, this guide answers all your questions regarding the turtle species of New Hampshire and the key facts and unique training that define them.

Turtles in New Hampshire