Turtles Native To Maryland

Painted Turtles enjoy lush vegetation and often venture into Maryland’s backyard ponds.

In Maryland, 19 turtle species are basking, bathing and browsing through foliage at any given moment, enjoying life in woodlands, bogs and waterways. Turtles — spending all or most of their life in water — and tortoises, terrestrial only — and terrapins, living in tidal marshes and water only — make up the three turtle types within the state. By offering a turtle adoption service and developing a protection program, Maryland showing how committed they are to protecting turtles.


Once adults, snapping turtles can measure two to three feet in diameter.

Bog turtles are threatened in Maryland. Difficult to find, these small turtles make their homes in freshwater marshes in the northern part of the state. Snapping turtles are known for having a constant appetite. Eating almost anything they can snap their jaws onto, snapping turtles are known for their bad temper and painful bites. Wood turtles spend their winters underwater, and spends the rest of the year exploring Maryland’s meadows and woodlands. Along with the spotted turtle and the painted turtle, it feeds on mollusks, aquatic plants and small animals. Musk, map and mud turtles can be discovered at muddy bottoms of streams and ditches. They can be found in back water sloughs or in ponds.


Box turtles are the most common terrestrial turtles in the eastern U.S.

Box turtles are the most common of the Maryland turtles often found. This is the only type of turtle with the ability to completely retreat into their shell. Their habitats are woodlands or fields with an occasional visit to the side of a pond, puddle or small stream. Box turtle colors can feature brown or green hues with yellow markings or dark brown shades with black, orange or yellow markings, according to Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

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Terrapins are well-adapted for eating hard-shelled prey.

Diamond-back terrapins are native to Maryland. As Maryland’s state reptile, the terrapin can often be found in the Chesapeake Bay-area. This turtle prefers brackish, salty water and enjoys tidal creeks. The diamond-back terrapin has a high mortality rate, mostly due to illegal entrapment in crab pots.

Sea Turtles

Hawksbill sea turtle shells are wanted for oil, perfume and leather goods.

Adult sea turtle females return to land to lay her eggs. It is still unknown how each female returns to the the same beach on which she was born. Within the United States, six types of sea turtles are protected under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. These turtles are the hawksbill, Kemp’s ridley, green, loggerhead, olive ridley and leatherback. All but the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle are native to Maryland.