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Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta)

Wood Turtle Wood turtles have a sculptured shell.
© Mike Marchand Photo

NH Conservation Status: Species of Special Concern, Wildlife Action Plan Species in Greatest Need of Conservation. Legally protected in New Hampshire: possession, sale, import, and take (harm, harass, injuring, killing) is illegal.

 

State Rank Status: Vulnerable to extirpation and extinction.

 

Distribution: Throughout NH except regions of high elevation.

 

Description: A 5-8 inch turtle characterized by its highly sculpted shell where each large scute takes an irregular pyramidal shape. The neck and forelimbs are orange.

 

Commonly Confused Species: Juvenile snapping turtles.

 

Habitat: Found in slow-moving streams and channels with sandy bottoms. Extensive use of terrestrial habitats during summer, including floodplains, meadows, woodlands, fields, as well as wetlands.

 

Life History: Lay 4-12 eggs in shallow depressions in sandy, well-drained soils. Nest sites are usually near streams but may also be in clearings, agricultural fields, or other disturbed areas. Hibernate in slow-moving streams and rivers under riverbanks, root masses, or woody debris.

 

Conservation Threats: Road mortality, Habitat loss and fragmentation, stream alteration, human collection, and increased abundance of subsidized predators.

 

 

Wood turtle

Wood turtle laying low in the vegetation after some rain. Photo © Ethan Nedeau

Wood turtle

Orange on the neck and limbs is usually quite obvious. Photo © Mike Marchand

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Wood turtle

Wood turtles often survive wounds inflicted by raccoons, otters, and other predators. Here, a wood turtle was found with a missing limb that had healed. Photo © Brian Hart

Wood turtle

Wood turtles prefer slow moving streams and rivers for winter hibernation and spring and fall activities. During the summer, wood turtles venture into surrounding terrestrial fields, shrublands, and floodplain areas. Photo © Mike Marchand

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Wood turtle

Wood turtles are largely terrestrial during the summer and venture into hayfields and agricultural lands that are near suitable rivers. During routine mowing of these areas, wood turtles may be killed or injured. Photo © Mike Marchand

Wood turtle

Plastron (lower shell) of wood turtle. Plastron markings are similar for spotted and Blanding’s turtles.Photo © Ethan Nedeau