This Reptile Has One Thing All Others Don’t in Minnesota
Minnesota is home to several species of reptiles, but only one of them has this distinction.
That's because while the handsome fella (or is it a beautiful female? I guess I don't really know how to determine a turtle's gender) in that picture is a Blanding's turtle, and they just happen to have something no other reptile in Minnesota has.
So what is it? A title. Because the Blanding's turtle just happens to be Minnesota's State Reptile. You knew Minnesota HAD a State Reptile, didn't you? Of course you did. (I know I did... ok, maybe not.) Well, even if you didn't, you know it now.
Well, technically, the Blanding's turtle is the proposed Minnesota State Reptile; it apparently hasn't been officially given that title, at least according to the Minnesota Secretary of State.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), though, is behind the push to make the Blanding's turtle our state reptile because it's s a state-listed threatened species, and have had that designation since 1984. And while they're found in over half of Minnesota's 84 counties, they're more prevalent in central and southeast Minnesota.
You can tell a Blanding's turtle from other species of turtles in Minnesota but the distinctive yellow stripe on their chins and throats. (And I have to confess I didn't know turtles even HAD chins.) And they can live a long time too, the DNR says some Blanding's turtles have been known to be over 70 years old.
Of course, like many turtles in Minnesota, they're a frequent target of predators like raccoons skunks, ravens, large fish, crows, and ants. Even nests not ravaged by predators often fail because of flooding, poor conditions, and other factors, the DNR said, noting that up to 75% of a Blanding's turtle's eggs are usually eaten by predators-- no wonder they're endangered!
So if you see one, please don't disturb it. And if you see one in the road, either drive around it or, better yet, pull over (when it's safe) and help it get across the road safely. The DNR has a list of other things you can do to help-- the Blanding's turtles of Minnesota thank you!
And while we wait for the Blanding's turtle to be officially named the Minnesota State Reptile, did you know there are a LOT of 'unofficial' Minnesota state symbols out there? Keep scrolling to check out the 10 best!