Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Turtles of Newton
Here are photos of an adult and juvenile Spotted Turtle taken recently in southeastern Massachusetts. Several years ago I discovered this species within the Brook Farm Historic Site just south of the Newton border. This species almost certainly occurs in Newton in the Wells Avenue Charles River Path area. Although it was likely more widespread in the past, it is unlikely that the Spotted Turtle still occurs elsewhere in Newton.
Until fairly recently, the Spotted Turtle was listed as a species of Special Concern, protected by the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act. Although the species was determined to be somewhat more widespread than previously thought, Spotted Turtles are vulnerable to road traffic and other threats, and are likely declining in Massachusetts.
It is interesting to explore which species manage to persist in urban and high density suburban landscapes such as Newton. The other native turtle species occurring in Newton are the Painted Turtle, Snapping Turtle, and Musk Turtle. It is likely that Eastern Box Turtles and Wood Turtles historically occurred in Newton, but have been extirpated. In April and May look out for basking turtles and in June look for nesting turtles. Here's a closeup photo of a hatchling Painted Turtle from Bullough's Pond.