Wood Turtle

Wood Turtle

The Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) is one of two species in the genus Glyptemys, both of which are limited to North America. Until 2002, the wood turtle was placed in the genus Clemmys but genetic analyses revealed that the wood turtle and bog turtle formed a distinct group . The wood turtle reaches carapace lengths of 6 to 9 inches . The wood turtle is accurately named, and spends most of its time in wooded areas. It is, however, also semi-aquatic and dependent on streams, rivers, and ponds. There are two apparent phenotypes. An orange 'redlegs' morph with a yellow ringed iris (generally) and a Yellow 'yellowlegs' morph with a solid black iris Schnirel, (1985). Color variations: The different color aspect of this species has been mentioned by Pope, (1938) and Harding, (1997). The Yellow legs phenotype seems to hail from the western part of the range.

Anatomy and appearance

Measurements based on straight length of the carapace minus the straight length of the plastron show a higher plus value for male North American wood turtles. Females will often have a minus value, indicating the plastron is longer than the carapace - Schnirel, (1985). This can be a guide in attempting to sex neonate Glyptemys insculpta (underlined). Wood turtles can grow up to 9 inches (24 cm) long. Adult North American Wood Turtles are more sexually dimorphic. As noted, males have a longer carapace compared to the plastron - Schnirel, (1985). In males, the tail is longer and the vent (cloaca) is further out on the tail. Males tend to have longer claws and a more pronounced concavity in the plastron. Young wood turtles are difficult to sex. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell until they are 4-5 inches (straight-line measurement) long - Braunlich, (2003). This species is considered one of the more intelligent of turtles. It is a great escape artist and climber and systematically has been seen probing fenced in areas to find a means of escape. Tinklepaugh, (1932) conducted maze experiments using Glyptemys insculpta (underlined). He found that the North American wood turtle had the learning capacity of a rat. Yerkes, (1901) conducted space reaction experiments that showed the more aquatic a turtle species, the less fear of heights was demonstrated. The North American wood turtle showed a greater fear of heights than its more aquatic cousin, the Spotted turtle (Clemmys guttata {underlined}). Schnirel, (1985) conducted mirror experiments with various turtle and tortoise species in recognition and reaction to their reflected image in mirrors. Glyptemys insculpta (underlined) showed a significantly greater interest in their reflected image.


The distribution of the wood turtle can be separated into two main areas: the Northeast and the Great Lakes. The Northeast region extends from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, south to northern Virginia and west through Pennsylvania and eastern Ontario. The Great Lakes region is somewhat discontinuous, with populations in southeastern Ontario (around Toronto), the northern lower peninsula of Michigan and from the central upper peninsula of Michigan southwest to southern Wisconsin, and just into eastern Minnesota. There are also disjunct populations in northeastern Iowa, south central Quebec and southern Ontario. In the Midwest, within the Great Lakes region, the wood turtle is considered imperiled in every state in which it occurs. The wood turtle is state Endangered in Iowa, state Threatened in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and a species of Special Concern in Michigan.


Wood turtles (like typical reptiles and unlike reptiles that have a Circulus structure) are generally solitary and create alpha-beta..rankings when forced into confined positions (Schnirel-2007). With neonates (CB hatchlings) , one must monitor feedings after food is introduced as the more dominant individuals will keep more passive individuals at bay to the detriment of the more passive individuals. (Braunlich-2003)



External links

Search another word or see wood turtleon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature