Turtles have lived on Earth for about 200 million years. That’s about the same time the first dinosaurs appeared. While the dinosaurs have long since died out, the tough turtles survived.
Most of Iowa’s turtles are aquatic or live in water. The two exceptions are the mud turtles and box turtles. The yellow mud turtle spends time on land and water. They are a state endangered species. The only surviving Iowa populations are scattered along the Mississippi River. The ornate box turtle lives entirely on land. It is a state threatened species, so it is illegal to capture or keep them.
Polk County Conservation Board has been involved in a reintroduction project for the past several years. A small population of turtles, that were doomed due to hwy. construction, were trapped and released at one of our parks. We are happy to report they are doing very well and will help to repopulate their species in central Iowa.
Common aquatic turtles include the snapping and painted turtles. Painted turtles can often be seen basking on floating logs in any of our park’s ponds or lakes.