Wood turtle
Massachusetts Species of Special Concern

The bright orange skin of the neck and fore limbs and deep sculpting of the shell identify wood turtles.

A bright orange throat and front legs help distinguish the wood turtle (5.5-8”) from any other turtle in Massachusetts. Each of the large scutes on the carapace is highly sculpted, roughly into pyramid shapes, that have obvious growth rings. The shell may range from a very light brown to chestnut to almost black ground color and may have contrasting light rays of yellow, gold or orange. The plastron is yellow with variable black markings which may cover large portions of the plastral scutes. Males have a deeply concave plastron, long front claws and tail.

Wood turtles are typically associated with streams and slow rivers but range widely across the terrestrial landscape. They use vernal pools heavily during the early spring where they feed on a variety of foods including amphibian eggs, larvae and invertebrates. They are a state-listed species of “Special Concern” and when found should be photographed and recorded with the NHESP.