Clemmys [Glyptemys] insculpta
An absolute beauty of a specimen, and a personal favorite. Can be easily distinguished by orange/red color on front legs and neck. Carapace (top) is brown with raised plates (i.e. pyramid-like), especially at center. Plastron (bottom) is yellowish-orange with semi-rectangular, black/charcoal patches at perimeter. Approximately 5 to 9 inches in size, and easy temperment.
This female wood turtle (above) was found on a very steep stream bank along the Black River in Orleans County in Vermont (i.e. Northeast Kingdom of Vermont); they are incredible climbers! This species was my “white whale”, and I finally spotted this one in the wild when I wasn’t even looking. They are very well camouflaged, and company aboard the recreational all-terrain vehicle (RTV) believed this turtle to be a rock even upon second inspection (at only 8′ distance). Their name derives from “woody” appearance relating to both color and texture of shell.
Redlegs – referring to color of legs
Mud Turtle – Often found on muddy banks of slow-moving streams
How to tell the difference between a male and female wood turtle:
Males have concave plastron (bottom), larger in size, and longer/thicker tail
Females have flat pastron (bottom), smaller in size, shorter/thinner tail
Note: No distinguishable difference in coloration between sexes
New England States Status
The possession, sale, import, and take (harm, harass, injuring, killing) of wood turtles is illegal in all of New England; specific classifications are listed below for each State.
Connecticut: State Species of Special Concern
Maine: Species of Special Concern
Massachusetts: Listed on the Massachusetts Endangered Species List
New Hampshire: Species of Special Concern, Wildlife Action Plan Species in Greatest Need of Conservation.
Rhode Island: Conern/Protected
Concern = Native species not considered to be State Endangered or State Threatened at the present time, but are listed due to various factors of rarity and/or vulnerability.
Protected = possession without a permit is prohibited at all times.
Vermont: Species of Greatest Conservation Need (high priority) in Vermont’s Wildlife Action Plan; Species of Special Concern in Vermont.
Atlantic Canada Status
Wood turtles ar only found in the following Atlantic Provinces: Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Their natural range also extends west into Quebec and Ontario.
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