This region harbors over 1/3 of Ontario's turtle population! With the only rock barrens and the highest density of aquatic habitats, The Land Between is home to a vast amount of reptiles. But too, this region is mainly intact. Rapid development threatens the last stronghold for Ontario's special species: Become a Turtle Guardian by visiting:
TLB has been working to save turtles and turtle habitats (wetlands!) across the region since 2006. We've installed crossing signs; mapped and conserved wetlands; supported turtle science and the installation of underpasses.
We work with partners of the Toronto Zoo, Scales Nature Park, Kids for Turtles Environmental Education, Ontario Nature, Environment Canada, and local groups.
Turtles are globally threatened!
- Turtles live well over 100 years (Armstrong and Brookes), and they need to because it can take about 25 years of laying eggs for one new turtle to survive. Turtles also are late in maturing- taking up to 20 years to reach the age where they can reproduce. Therefore, recruitment rates are less than 1%.
- The majority of nests are dug out by raccoons foxes, skunks and weasels...and if left alone, variable temperatures or high temperatures will result in mostly female hatchlings, while cool temperatures may result in mostly male turtles. Therefore, Climate Change will impact turtle recruitment as well.
- Once baby turtles hatch they need to find water and are perfect prey for blue jays, crows and ravens. At the water, bass, walleye and other fish like to eat little turtles too.
- Turtles get hit on roads when they are moving to nesting sites, and these turtles are mainly the egg laying females.
- Finally, many people think that turtles make good pets and remove them from the population. Alternatively, they may think that turtles are very prolific or they are afraid of certain species and therefore they may deliberately remove them from the wild or harm them.
Turtles Help Keep Our Waters Clean
- Turtles, especially Snapping Turtles, rarely bite in water, and instead are gentle janitors and are important for our lakes as they consume carcasses along the lake or pond bottom, thereby removing sources of pathogens and bacteria. They do this especially when they are young. The older the turtle is, the less protein they require and the more seeds and vegetation they consume. Therefore when they journey through their territories, they spread seeds that grow into new fish nurseries and wetlands habitats. Turtles are super-agents of biodiversity!
Through our Turtle Guardians program, we help you to help turtles. We provide educational opportunities and online tools to help identify turtles and turtle habitats. We link you to online reporting forms to report where you see turtles, so that we can install crossing signs and monitor populations and habitats. We train Turtle Guardians in monitoring nests, wetlands, roadways, or crossing sites, and in turtle biology, behaviour and ecology. Turtle Guardians receive annual awards and have access to site visits to help with stewardship plans on their properties.