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Saturday, June 22: Stone Zoo will close at 3pm (last tickets sold at 2pm) in preparation for our event, A Wild Affair. Please plan your visit accordingly!

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spotted turtle

Spotted Turtle Conservation

We’re working to conserve the last remaining populations of the locally rare spotted turtle in Boston. These small turtles are hanging on in two urban watersheds: at Stony Brook and Fowl Meadow Reservations.

The vernal pools and marshes of the Stony Brook Reservation are home to around 20 adult spotted turtles. ZNE biologists are currently radiotracking turtles to document population demographics and understand their habitat needs. By tracking female turtles, we can also find and protect their nests—and ultimately boost this turtle’s population—by raising hatchlings in captivity until they can be released back to the wild as larger juveniles that are able to fend for themselves. Together with our partners from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, we’re also creating new nesting habitat for the Stony Brook population.

Additionally, we're seeking out the spotted turtles that still grace the wetlands of Fowl Meadow in Boston and neighboring Milton, Canton and Dedham. These wetlands may also still support a handful of Threatened Blanding’s turtles.

We also have an exciting new project in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC to look at one of the more amazing aspects of turtle biology. Whether a turtle is male or female partly depends on the temperature of the nest while turtles are still in the egg! Cool temperature tends to produce males, while warm temperatures produce females (intermediate temperatures can produce mixed broods). We will be looking at the thermal environment in and around turtle nests to better understand this amazing aspect of turtle biology, with an eye toward considering how climate change may end up affecting spotted and other species of turtles.

About the spotted turtle

Spotted turtles are small, aquatic turtles with yellow spots on their shell and head. Each turtle has a unique pattern of spots, much like a zebra's stripes, that can be used to identify individuals. If you ever spot a spotted turtle (no pun intended!) at Stony Brook, Fowl Meadow, or anywhere in the Greater Boston area, please snap a photo of it and send it to to log your observation with our scientists!