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Glyptemys insculpta

Common Name: Wood Turtle
Glyptemys insculpta
Glyptemys insculpta

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Family: Emydidae
Genus: Glyptemys
Species: Glyptemys insculpta

Conservation Status

Identifying Features

Wood turtles have rough shells that are wood-like and brown-colored, with growth rings that form pyramid shapes. The have a reddish-orange neck and legs. They can grow to be around 5-9 inches in length.

Habitat & Range

Wood turtles live in cool streams found in woods and wet fields across northeastern United States and into parts of Canada.


Wood turtles are most active during the day and spend most of their basking on log, sandy shores, or stream banks. During the spring, they are largely terrestrial and spend most of their time foraging. They prey on worms, slugs, insets, tadpoles, and fruit. When temperatures become too hot, they will rest under vegatation, debris, and in shallow puddles. During the winter, wood turtles bury themselves in the thick mud at the bottom of the river and remain there for hibernation.

Life Cycle

Wood turtles mate during the spring and into the fall season. Mating involves intricate courtship rituals that include several hours of dancing along the edge of small streams. Females often nest and lay their eggs in the summer in areas with ample sunlight and soft soil. They will deposit around 3 to 20 eggs in a small hole and cover up the area with the surrounding soil. Young turtles emerge from the nest around late summer to fall and become independent immediately.

Featured image by Wilfried Burns

See Me At Cayuga Nature Center


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