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Wood Turtle

Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo

Did You Know?

  • Wood turtles likely get their name from the deep concentric rings and grooves on their carapace. These give them the appearance that they were sculpted from wood.
  • Some populations will stomp on the ground with their front feet or their shell, drawing earthworms out of the ground where the turtles can quickly eat them.
  • Wood turtles live in a variety of habitats but prefer areas with clear running water and forests nearby. They hibernate along the bottom of shallow streams and rivers in winter.

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Scientific Name: Glyptemys insculpta

Class: Reptiles

Diet: Leaves, flowers, berries, fungi, slugs, snails, worms, and insects

Range: Southeastern Canada to northeastern United States

Endangered Status: Endangered

More Information

Wood turtles are a small semiaquatic turtle species; the largest ones have shells just over 9 inches in length. The upper shell (carapace) is usually grayish-brown with some yellow streaks, while the bottom (plastron) is a vivid yellow. They are active during the day and spend time basking in sunshine.

Courtship and mating happen all year but peak in spring and fall. Females build nests from May to July and bury up to 18 eggs at a time, then leave. The eggs that survive predators will hatch in September or August, and the young head to water when they emerge. Wood turtles reach maturity at 14–18 years of age.

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