Ontario reptiles need your help

Have you ever seen a turtle or snake on a road in spring?  This photo of a Snapping Turtle was taken by a visitor on one of the gravel roads in Algonquin Provincial Park.


Roads are considered by turtles and other reptiles to be perfect nesting grounds. They’re warm. They generally have good drainage and they’re sandy which are all good things to a reptile. Unfortunately, road mortality is one of the leading reasons why 3/4 of all Ontario reptiles are in trouble.  So if you’re out and about this spring, keep your eyes peeled for turtles and snakes and avoid them where you can. You can also aid in their conservation by reporting your reptile sightings via a unique citizen science survey called Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas.  Organized by Ontario Nature formerly Ontario Federation of Naturalists, the survey will help shape future reptile and amphibian conservation efforts.  


Here are some interesting Ontario turtle facts:

 • Eight species of turtle are native to Ontario. The rarest is the Spiny Soft Shell Turtle. The most common is the Midland Painted Turtle. The largest is the Snapping Turtle.

Spiny Soft Shell Turtle (left) and Midland Painted Turtle (right).

 • Turtles don’t lay their first eggs until about 17 years of age. Eggs take about 80-100 days to incubate.

 • Some turtles live a minimum of 80 – 100 years.  Unlike humans, turtles become more fit with age and continue to breed well into old age.

 • Studies show a disproportionate number of female turtles die on roads. 

 Every summer, you can learn more about Ontario reptiles at Ontario Parks that offer Natural Heritage Education (NHE) programming. The best place to check for reptile programming is the parks’ Calendar of Events which is updated regularly throughout the summer.