Substantial number of turtle and frog submissions to Ontario Turtle Tally and FrogWatch Ontario in 2018, by Nina Adamo

It’s summer – the best time of the year to see Ontario’s turtle and frog species on the move and active. Whether basking on a rock or log in the sun, crossing roads to find nesting sites and lay eggs, swimming or hopping around in the water, or calling to find mates, turtles and frogs are out and active!

Summer is just beginning to come to a close, and the number of turtle and frog/toad sightings submitted to Ontario Turtle Tally and FrogWatch Ontario so far in 2018 has exceeded the total from 2017! This year, we have already received over 1,700 turtle and frog sightings. A big thank you to all Turtle Talliers and Frog Watchers for submitting your sightings and supporting conservation efforts for the turtles and frogs of Ontario. We hope you enjoyed using the Adopt-A-Pond app that officially launched last spring. Reporting sightings, especially for at risk species, is very important for conservation efforts as it gives us crucial information about the distribution of these animals and the activities they are doing in certain areas such as where they are nesting. It is also important when it comes to assessing road mortality, which is a major threat facing many of Ontario’s turtles. Unfortunately, all eight species of turtles that live in Ontario are now federally listed as species at risk due to habitat lost and fragmentation, increased road mortality, poaching, illegal collection for the pet trade, and pollution.

There have been many interesting sightings that have come in so far this year. Below are just a few of them.

There have been many midland painted turtle sightings this year, with majority of the turtles being seen catching some rays on logs and rocks such as these three turtles observed on June 18th (below). Midland painted turtles are one of the most common turtles seen in Ontario and are recognized by their smooth olive to brownish grey carapace (upper shell), orange-red markings along the edges of their carapaces, and yellow and red stripes on their limbs and head.

3 painted turtles

Midland painted turtles – Wendy Hogan

On June 16th, an observer thought there was a leaf blowing across the hood of her car, but after a closer look realized it was actually a gray treefrog catching a ride on her hood (below left)! Gray treefrogs can vary in colour and can be gray, brown, or bright green with a white spot below the eye (below right) and are most easily distinguished from the other frogs in Ontario by their large and expanded toe disks that make them superior climbers.

Left to right: Gray treefrogs – Mindi Funk; Gord Carter 

There have been many turtle hatchling sightings that Turtle Talliers have shared with us this year! A young northern map turtle (below left) was spotted in Devil Lake Ontario. Northern map turtles are best recognized by the yellow lines on their carapaces that resemble map lines, the yellow markings on their limbs and head, the serrated rear of their carapace, and the keel (slightly raised area) down the center of the carapace. A very small midland painted turtle hatchling was spotted on May 6th (below right). The nesting season for turtles in Ontario is from May to July, and most hatchlings emerge in the fall (some species can overwinter in the nest and emerge in the spring).

Left to right: Northern map turtle – Julie Stow; Midland painted turtle – Natasha Egorenkova

There have been a few eastern musk turtle sightings submitted this year, including one on July 1st (below). Sightings of this turtle, also called the stinkpot turtle because of the musky odour it gives off if threatened, are not as common as some of the other turtles in Ontario due to the fact that they like to bask under the cover of floating vegetation rather than outside the water on logs or rocks and because they are nocturnal, meaning they are typically more active at night.


Eastern musk turtle – Carol Coleman

Please enjoy some of the other amazing photos that were submitted this year:

Left to right: Snapping turtle – Malia Dupuis; Leopard frog – Michelle Ho Yan Ko; Blanding’s turtle – Janet Sinclair

Left to right: Gray treefrog – Sara Watson; Northern map turtle – Pat Grace; Midland painted turtle – Rachel Graansma

For more information on how to join Ontario Turtle Tally and FrogWatch, click here. Submissions can be made online or through the Adopt-A-Pond app, which can be downloaded via the IOS App Store and Android Google Play Store.