Wood Turtle

Scientific NameGlyptemys insculpta

Native To Atlantic coast of the United States and Canada (from Nova Scotia to Virginia)

Habitat Forested and agricultural land with slow moving streams

Diet Omnivore: slugs, worms, tadpoles, insects, algae, wild fruits, leaves, grass, moss, and carrion (the decaying flesh of dead animals)

Size and Age Average length of 15-23 cm (6-9 in); average lifespan of 45-50 years

Natural History

The shell of a wood turtle often looks like a carved piece of wood, giving them their name. They are often found in forests and agricultural land, near slow moving water sources, such as creeks or streams. Wood turtles brumate (a state of dormancy similar to hibernation) underwater during winter. Dissolved oxygen is extracted from water, allowing them to remain submerged until spring. Once warmer weather returns, the wood turtle becomes active again, leaving the water to forage for food.

Endangered

Conservation Status

The wood turtle population continues to decline in the wild. These turtles do not reach sexual maturity until 17 years of age, which contributes to a slow reproduction rate. Captive breeding allows for these turtles to repopulate under human care, preventing them from becoming extinct.

Interesting Facts

  • Wood turtles are as smart as rats.
  • They are great escape artists!
  • Wood turtles have an interesting hunting method—they stomp their feet on the ground to entice worms out of the soil.
  • Wood turtles do not shed their scutes (horned sections of their shell), instead they develop a rugged, gnarled appearance as they age.