© Jim Lockwood
Wall Lake is an important turtle habitat
Wall Lake's wetlands provide an important habitat for many species, including Blanding's turtles. Blanding's turtles are considered a Special Concern species in Michigan, and an Endangered Species elsewhere. It is a special sighting when one sees a Blanding's turtle.
Why the name Blanding's Turtle?
The Blanding's turtle is named in honor of American naturalist, Dr. William Blanding (1773-1857).
Pixnio Public Domain
Blanding's turtles live primarily in wetlands in north America and Canada. Over the decades, loss of wetlands has reduced their habitat and has reduced Blanding's turtle populations. They still are commonly found in intact wetland habitat, but overall their numbers are in decline due to loss of habitat. They continue to live at Wall Lake in our wetlands.
Blanding's turtles are medium sized turtles (7-10 inches). They have a large, strong, smooth domed shell and bright yellow chin and throat. They like to sun themselves, and their large shell provides camouflage among large rocks.
Blanding's turtles are docile creatures that retreat from peril and rarely bite. When threatened they prefer to sit on the bottom of a lake for hours. They are excellent swimmers.
Blanding's turtles are omnivorous and forage underwater for invertebrates, insects, fish, frogs, leeches, crayfish, carrion, and vegetation. They are good swimmers and can catch live fish. They have an exceptionally long neck which they use to ambush prey.
Blanding's turtles begin to be reproductive at around 14-20 of their approximately 80-100 year life span. They lay 5-15 eggs in a dry location. Most of their eggs are eaten by predators such as fox, raccoons, snakes, skunks, and coyotes. The few that survive live so long due to their docile nature, extremely hard shells, and natural ability to defy the aging process.
Shoreline habitat is very important for the survival of all turtles, Blanding's turtles. A natural shoreline allows turtles climb out of the lake onto land to lay eggs. Seawalls or large rocks prevent turtles from leaving a lake to lay eggs.
Hazards To Turtles
Turtles that are swimming just below the surface of a lake are killed by motorboat propellers. Also, turtles are killed when crossing roads to lay eggs. Blanding's turtles in particular are susceptible to being killed by vehicles as they travel long distances over land and like to lay their eggs in the dry soil next to roads.
Blanding's turtles live an astounding 80-100 years. Incredibly, they show almost no sign of aging and are able to reproduce until they die. Because of this they are considered to be nearly "non-aging", and they are the subject of aging research.
Special Concern Species
Click here to link to MSU Extension Michigan Natural Features Inventory list of Endangered, Threatened, and Special Concern species by county.