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Wood Turtle

wood turtle

Can you see the growth rings on each of this wood turtle's scutes?

Wisconsin status: threatened

This medium-sized turtle is most easily recognized by its shell. Each scute (the individual plates on the top and bottom of the shell) of its carapace (upper shell) has sculptured growth rings. If this sounds confusing, just take a look at the photo and you'll see what we mean. Its shell is not smooth; it's very sculptured. The carapace (remember that's the upper part of the shell), is usually a medium brown. Sometimes it has black flecks and faint yellow rays. The plastron (lower shell) is yellow with black blotches toward the outer edges. Check out the photo and you'll see tha wood turtle's head is kind of dark brown to black with no patterns on it. The skin on its neck and leg sockets varies from pale yellow to orangish-red.

This is a map showing where wood turtles can be found--their range is in brown.

Wood turtles spend time in both aquatic and land habitats. In the water, they prefer moderate to fast-flowing water. On land, they like forested habitats right next to rivers and streams. Forests provide them with their favorite foods of berries, greens, night crawlers, worms and other invertebrates. Wood turtles often bask on land, so you typically don't see them very often. Females wood turtles often nest in groups. Their large stash of eggs are often eaten by predators.



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