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14 Turtles Found in Pennsylvania (with Pictures)

Ed Malaker

Pennsylvania is home to several species of turtle, and they are all extremely interesting. If you love turtles, keep reading while we list the various species you can find here. We’ll tell you which ones are native as well as point out any invasive species. For each entry, we’ll provide you with a picture as well as a short description so you can learn more about them.

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14 Turtles Found in Pennsylvania

1. Blanding’s Turtle

Blanding's turtle on the ground
Image Credit: Brian A Wolf, Shutterstock
Species: Emydidae
Longevity: 80 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 5 – 8 inches
Diet: Carnivorous

The Blanding’s Turtle is an endangered species that you can still find in Pennsylvania. It has a smooth shell and a long lifespan that can often exceed 80 years. It’s quite rare, but it may be possible to purchase one from a breeder for a few hundred dollars.


2. Bog Turtle

bog turtle_Jay Ondreicka_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Jay Ondreicka, Shutterstock
Species: Glyptemys muhlenbergii
Longevity: 40 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 3 – 5 inches
Diet: Carnivorous

The Bog Turtle is the smallest species in North America, and while they are extremely attractive, they are also critically endangered, and you will have a difficult time trying to find one in its natural habitat. However, you might be able to purchase a captive-bred Bog Turtle from a reputable breeder.


3. Eastern Box Turtle

eastern box turtle_Pixabay
Image Credit: love-of-horses-1977, Pixabay
Species: Terrapene carolina carolina
Longevity: 40 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 4 – 7 inches
Diet: Carnivorous

The Eastern Box Turtle is the easiest to find in Pennsylvania due to its wide range and strong population. It stays close to the water but prefers to move around on land, and you will often find them in grassy areas by a river. Though it rarely grows more than 7 inches, it can cover an area of more than 200 feet while it looks for food.


4. Northern Red-Bellied Cooter

Species: Pseudemys rubriventris
Longevity: 40 – 55 years
Good to own as a pet?: No
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 8 – 13 inches
Diet: Omnivorous

The Northern Red-Bellied Cooter is one of the more colorful turtles you can find in Pennsylvania. It has a bright red and yellow belly and can grow more than one foot long. It likes to stick to ponds and rivers with soft floors. It has a versatile diet and is usually quite peaceful, but its numbers are quickly declining due to habitat destruction.


5. Northern Map Turtle

Species: Graptemys geographica
Longevity: 15 – 20 years
Good to own as a pet?: No
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 4 – 11 inches
Diet: Carnivorous

The Northern Map Turtle has a wide range all across North America, and you can also find it in Pennsylvania, especially in the northwest counties. It’s an aquatic turtle that spends much of its time in slow-moving waters.


6. Eastern Mud Turtle

Species: Kinosternon subrubrum
Longevity: 50 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 3 – 5 inches
Diet: Carnivorous

The Eastern Mud Turtle is a species that like to inhabit shallow water, whereas its name suggests it can hide in the mud from predators. It’s an omnivore that can make a great pet if you can find a captive-bred one.


7. Painted Turtles

painted turtle close up
Image Credit: Christa_explores, Pixabay
Species: Chrysemys picta picta
Longevity: 30 – 50 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 4 – 10 inches
Diet: Omnivorous

Painted Turtles are one of the more popular species to keep as a pet. It has a dark shell with plenty of highlights in a bright color ranging from red to yellow, giving it the impression, someone painted it. These turtles are omnivores that also prefer slow-moving water.


8. Common Snapping Turtle

common snapping turtle
Image Credit: Bernell MacDonald, Pixabay
Species: Chelydra Serpentina
Longevity: 30 – 50 years
Good to own as a pet?: No
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 8 – 20 inches
Diet: Carnivorous

The Common Snapping Turtle inhabits many ponds and other large bodies of water all over Pennsylvania. It has a powerful jaw that it can use aggressively if it feels backed into a corner but is quite peaceful in the water. The shell will have prehistoric-looking ridges, and the tail also has plenty of spikes.


9. Midland Smooth Softshell

Species: Apalone mutica mutica
Longevity: 25+ years
Good to own as a pet?: No
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 5 – 14 inches
Diet: Carnivorous

The Midland Smooth Softshell is a species that prefers larger streams and rivers. As the name suggests, it lacks the hard-shell other turtles have to protect themselves and instead have something that resembles a rubbery pancake.


10. Eastern Spiny Softshell Turtle

Species: Apalone spinifera spinifera
Longevity: 20 – 50 years
Good to own as a pet?: No
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 5 – 17 inches
Diet: Carnivorous

The Eastern Spiny Softshell Turtle is another softshell turtle that you can find almost anywhere in Pennsylvania besides the extreme northeastern counties.  It’s a fast swimmer that prefers large, slow-moving bodies of water and is an opportunistic carnivore that gets its food from the river floor.


11. Spotted Turtle

Spotted Turtle_ Jay Ondreicka_Shutterstock
Image credit: Jay Ondreicka, Shutterstock
Species: Clemmys guttata
Longevity: 20 – 50 years
Good to own as a pet?: No
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 4 – 5 inches
Diet: Omnivorous

The Spotted Turtle is another beautiful but endangered turtle that you can still find in parts of Pennsylvania if you look carefully. It has a smooth black shell with bright yellow dots. It prefers shallow water and basking on logs to stay warm.


12. Wood Turtle

Species: Glyptemys insculpta
Longevity: 40 – 60 years
Good to own as a pet?: No
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 5 – 8 inches
Diet: Omnivorous

The Wood Turtle has a very long lifespan and was once quite common in Pennsylvania, but recently habitat loss has been causing the population to decline. These turtles get their name from their rough shells that feel as though you carved them from wood.


13. Red Eared Slider

red eared slider
Image Credit: Sergii Votit, Shutterstock
Species: Trachemys scripta elegans
Longevity: 20 – 40 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 6 – 8 inches
Diet: Omnivorous

The Red Eared Slider is actually an invasive species that likely began when unscrupulous owners release their pets into the wild. These are among the most popular breeds to keep as a pet, and you can find them in almost any pet store. However, we recommend keeping them in their habitat.


14. Yellow Bellied Slider

Yellow-Bellied Slider
Image Credit: DEZALB, Pixabay
Species: Trachemys scripta scripta
Longevity: 20 – 40 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 5 – 12 inches
Diet: Omnivorous

The Yellow-Bellied Slider is another popular pet that found its way onto the Pennsylvania invasive species list, most likely due to irresponsible owners. As the name suggests, these turtles have a bright yellow belly, and their shells will range from dark brown to olive. While these turtles make fantastic pets, we recommend purchasing them from a reputable breeder and keeping them inside the house to help protect the environment.

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Conclusion

As you can see, there are several turtle species in Pennsylvania, and except for two breeds, they are all native. Unfortunately, several species like the Wood Turtle, Northern Red-Bellied Cooter, and the Bog Turtle face declining numbers due to habitat destruction, so if you enjoy searching for these frogs, now is the time to do it.

We hope you have enjoyed reading over this list and found a few species you didn’t know existed here. If we helped answer your questions, please share this guide to 14 turtles you can find in Pennsylvania on Facebook and Twitter.


Featured Image Credit: Ryan M. Bolton, Shutterstock

Ed Malaker

Ed Malaker is a veteran writer who has contributed to a wide range of blogs that cover tools, pets, guitars, fitness, and computer programming. When he’s not writing, Ed is usually performing DIY projects around the house or working in the garden. He’s also a musician and spends a lot of time helping people fix their guitars and composing music for independent films.