For those of you who don't recognize this little animal... it's a bog turtle! It is an amazing reptile that is the smallest turtle species in North America and one of the most endangered. A few years ago, I was able to tag along with Fish and Wildlife and my partner on 'The Snake And The Salamander' book, in order to see one of these turtles in the wild. The site we were at had pitcher plants and LOTS of poison sumac! I also saw the jawbone from a deer nestled in the vegetation near the spot where we found a bog turtle. A strange little scene that I have been wanting to paint for a while. This is just one of over three hundred incredible turtle species in the world. Some turtles are the vultures of ponds, lakes, and rivers, eating dead and decaying animals and plants. Gopher tortoises are considered a keystone species, meaning other species depend on them to survive. Other turtles keep certain species of mollusks from overpopulating which would otherwise cause damage to their environments. There is a long list of why turtles are important! Today over 50% of the almost 360 species are declining and are threatened or endangered. They are collected and sold illegally as pets or as food. Many are declining due to habitat loss, road mortality and climate change. If the temperature is even a few degrees warmer there will be an unbalance of males and females in populations.