Meet N.J.’s official state reptile

Meet N.J.'s official state reptile

20 Haziran 2018 - 02:00

New Jersey already has a state bug (the honeybee) and a state animal (the horse.) The creatures are just two of 13 official symbols for the state. But for years, New Jersey has lacked a reptilian emissary to the greater world.

Now, with a stroke of Gov. Phil Murphy's pen, New Jersey has an official state reptile.

Meet the bog turtle, the adorable new addition to New Jersey's collection of mascots.

Photo courtesy of New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife
Meet the bog turtle

The bog turtle is both small and colorful. Typically only about four inches long, this is one of the smallest turtles found in North America according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Bog turtles are identified by the iconic orange, yellow or red spots on each side of their head.

Most importantly, the bog turtle has been federally listed as threatened since 1997 and has been listed as endangered in New Jersey since 1974.

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Patti Sapone | For The Star-Ledger
How many are there?

Exact numbers for the current bog turtle population are unknown, but it is estimated that between 2,500 and 10,000 of the turtles  are currently alive according to the Endangered Species Coalition.

At home on the East Coast

Bog turtles are split into two distinct populations, according to the Endangered Species Coalition. The northern turtles are found in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland. The southern population is found in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

In New Jersey, the largest population of bog turtles lives in the northwestern part of the state though the turtles are also found in Central Jersey and South Jersey.

Photo courtesy of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
A life of laying low

Bog turtles can live for more than 30 years, according to the New York Department of Conservation, and that life is one of secrecy.

The turtles stay mostly hidden except to sunbathe, and tend to eat what they can get with a preference for bugs. They hibernate in the winter (from October to April) and lay two to four eggs at a time in the spring. The eggs hatch around mid-September.


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