Wetlands and waterways across the country are threatened by pollution and damming, severely impacting freshwater turtles like the bog turtle.

This is one of the smallest turtles in North America and it is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act because of disappearing habitat. With only about 500 total acres remaining, mountain bogs are one of rarest habitat types on earth.

By altering or restricting livestock grazing and controlling weeds, farmers and ranchers can improve and restore habitat for turtles. As an added bonus, efforts to protect wetland areas also benefit wild turkeys, bass and trout. 

Defenders' Impact

Defenders is a member of the Bog Learning Network, which is focused on protection and restoration of mountain bogs and all of their native species, both common and imperiled.

Through this partnership, we are developing an approach to strategic intervention to save bogs threatened by development and protect the wildlife that rely on this important habitat. We are also heavily involved in Working Lands for Wildlife programs under the Farm Bill to help private landowners take care of their land.

Similarly, Defenders is a leader within the Wetland Forest Initiative, which is a 14-state coalition of partners dedicated to preserving critical wetland forest ecosystems. 


A large percentage of freshwater habitat has been drained and converted to farmland. Invasive plants, such as the purple loosestrife from Asia and Africa, are crowding in. Pollution of waterways impacts siltation and water quality and poachers will capture and sell these turtles as favorites of the pet trade.

Protection Status
Endangered Species Act
IUCN Red List
 Critically Endangered
 Appendix I
What You Can Do

Limit pesticide use and help control erosion by planting trees and other plants to keep water clean. Think about proactive conservation recommendations when thinking about developing land.

Latin Name
Glyptemys muhlenbergii
Reaching lengths of only 4.5 inches, the bog turtle is the smallest turtle in North America.
At least 50 years

The northern bog turtle population stretches from New York and western Massachusetts south to Maryland and the southern population occurs in the Appalachians. 
Bog turtles prefer open, unpolluted emergent and scrub/shrub wetlands such as shallow spring-fed fens, sphagnum bogs, swamps, marshy meadows and wet pastures. 


Current populations are unknown but estimates range from 2,500 to 10,000.


Bog turtles depend upon a diversity of micro-habitats for foraging, nesting, basking, hibernating and sheltering. 


Nesting Season: May - September
Gestation: 1-2 months
Clutch size: 1-5 eggs 


Bog turtles primarily eat mollusks and aquatic insects, but also eat seeds and berries.