LRP - Licenses

LRP - Regulations

LRP - Permits

Recreation - Statewide

Recreation - Trapping

Recreation - Fishing

Recreation - Hunting

Env. Protection - Management

Env. Protection - Emergency

Env. Protection - Resources

To sign up for updates or to access your subscriber preferences, please enter your contact information below.



 
Share your observations

Share your observations of plants or non-game animals with the Natural Heritage Inventory.

Rare animals
Find rare and non-game animals.
Rare plants
Learn about plants on the Natural Heritage Working List.
Rare lichens
Discover Wisconsin's lichens.
Natural communities
Explore Wisconsin's natural communities.
Other features
Discover unique resources.
Eagle license plate

Help care for rare plants and animals by ordering an Endangered Resources plate.

Contact information
For information on Wisconsin's rare animals, contact:
Rich Staffen
Conservation Biologist
608-266-4340

Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta)


Overview

Overview

Wood turtles (Glyptemys insculpta), a Threatened Species in Wisconsin, prefer rivers and streams with adjacent riparian wetlands and upland deciduous forests. This species often forages in open wet meadows or in shrub-carr habitats dominated by speckled alder. They overwinter in streams and rivers in deep holes or undercut banks where there is enough water flow to prevent freezing. This semi-terrestrial species typically remains within 300 m (984 ft) of rivers and streams. This species becomes active in spring as soon as the ice is gone and air temperatures reach around 50° F, which can occur as early as mid-March. They may remain active into late October but have been seen breeding under the ice. Wood turtles can breed at any time of year, but breeding primarily occurs during the spring or fall. Nesting usually begins in late May in southern WI and early June in northern WI and continues through June. This species nests in open or semi-open canopy areas containing gravel or sandy soils, typically within 61 m (200 ft) of the water. Hatching occurs in 55-75 days (mid-July through mid-September) depending on air temperatures. This species does not overwinter in nests, unlike some other Wisconsin turtle species. See the species guidance document for avoidance measures and management guidance from the Natural Heritage Conservation Program.

Broad Incidental Take Permit
For avoidance during common activities, see the Wood Turtle Broad Incidental Take Permit.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - both state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where occurrences of this species meet NHI data standards and is not meant as a comprehensive map of all observations.

Note: Species recently added to the NHI Working List may temporarily have blank occurrence maps.


Documented locations of Glyptemys insculpta in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.
Summary Information
State StatusTHR
Federal Status in WisconsinSOC
State RankS3
Global RankG3
Tracked by NHIY
WWAP SGCN

Species guidance


This document contains identification and life history information for Wood Turtle. It also describes how to screen projects for potential impact to this species, lists avoidance measures, and provides general management guidance. For avoidance during common activities, see the Wood Turtle Broad Incidental Take Permit.

Wood Turtle Species Guidance Document [PDF]


Photos/Video

Video

Photos


Wood Turtle

Wood turtle capture along road

Photo by Rich Staffen, WDNR.

Wood Turtle

Wood turtle at nesting site

Photo by Rich Staffen, WDNR.

Wood Turtle

Juvenile Wood Turtle

Photo © A.B. Sheldon.

Wood Turtle

Wood Turtle plastron

Photo © A.B. Sheldon.

Wood Turtle

Wood Turtle

Photo © A.B. Sheldon.

Wood Turtle

Wood Turtle

Photo © A.B. Sheldon.

Wood Turtle

Wood Turtle

Photo © A.B. Sheldon.

Wood Turtle

Photo © A.B. Sheldon.

Wood Turtle

Photo © Andrew Badje.

Wood Turtle

Photo © Andrew Badje.


Wildlife Action Plan

Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

Native community (habitat) associations

The table below lists the natural communities that are associated with Wood Turtle. Only natural communities for which Wood Turtle is "significantly" (score=3) or "moderately" (score=2) associated are shown. Please see the Wildlife Action Plan to learn how this information was developed.

Ecological landscape associations

The table below lists the ecological landscape association scores for Wood Turtle. The scores correspond to the map (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None). For more information, please see the Wildlife Action Plan.

This map shows the probability of Wood Turtle occurring in each of Wisconsin's Ecological Landscapes.  Actual scores can be found in the table to the left.


Back to Top


Landscape-Community combinations of highest ecological priority*

Ecological priorities are the combinations of natural communities and ecological landscapes that provide Wisconsin's best opportunities to conserve important habitats for a given Species of Greatest Conservation Need. The 10 highest scoring combinations are considered ecological priorities and are listed below. More than 10 combinations are listed if multiple combinations tied for 10th place. For more information, please see the Wildlife Action Plan.

Ecological LandscapeCommunity
Central Sand Plains Floodplain Forest
Central Sand Plains Oak Barrens
Central Sand Plains Pine Barrens
Central Sand Plains Sand Prairie
Central Sand Plains Alder Thicket
Central Sand Plains Shrub Carr
Forest Transition Northern Mesic Forest--early seral
Forest Transition Northern Mesic Forest--late seral
Forest Transition Northern Mesic Forest--mid seral
Forest Transition Northern Mesic Forest--young seral
Forest Transition Coldwater streams
Forest Transition Coolwater streams
Forest Transition Warmwater rivers
Forest Transition Warmwater streams
North Central Forest Aspen-Birch
North Central Forest Northern Mesic Forest--early seral
North Central Forest Northern Mesic Forest--late seral
North Central Forest Northern Mesic Forest--mid seral
North Central Forest Northern Mesic Forest--young seral
North Central Forest Alder Thicket
North Central Forest Coldwater streams
North Central Forest Coolwater streams
North Central Forest Warmwater rivers
North Central Forest Warmwater streams
Northeast Sands Aspen-Birch
Northeast Sands Northern Dry Forest--mid seral
Northeast Sands Northern Dry Forest--young seral
Northeast Sands Northern Dry Mesic--mid seral
Northeast Sands Northern Dry Mesic--late seral
Northeast Sands Northern Dry Mesic--young seral
Northeast Sands Pine Barrens
Northeast Sands Bracken Grassland
Northeast Sands Coldwater streams
Northeast Sands Coolwater streams
Northern Highland Aspen-Birch
Northern Highland Northern Dry Mesic--mid seral
Northern Highland Northern Dry Mesic--late seral
Northern Highland Northern Dry Mesic--young seral
Northern Highland Coolwater streams
Northern Highland Warmwater rivers
Northern Highland Warmwater streams
Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Mesic Forest--early seral
Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Mesic Forest--late seral
Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Mesic Forest--mid seral
Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Mesic Forest--young seral
Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Shrub Carr
Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Warmwater rivers
Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Warmwater streams
Northwest Sands Aspen-Birch
Northwest Sands Northern Dry Forest--mid seral
Northwest Sands Northern Dry Forest--young seral
Northwest Sands Northern Dry Mesic--mid seral
Northwest Sands Northern Dry Mesic--late seral
Northwest Sands Northern Dry Mesic--young seral
Northwest Sands Oak Barrens
Northwest Sands Pine Barrens
Northwest Sands Coldwater streams
Northwest Sands Coolwater streams
Northwest Sands Warmwater rivers
Superior Coastal Plain Aspen-Birch
Superior Coastal Plain Great Lakes Barrens
Superior Coastal Plain Coldwater streams
Superior Coastal Plain Coolwater streams
Superior Coastal Plain Warmwater streams
Western Coulee and Ridges Floodplain Forest
Western Coulee and Ridges Oak Barrens
Western Coulee and Ridges Sand Barrens
Western Coulee and Ridges Dry Prairie
Western Coulee and Ridges Sand Prairie
Western Coulee and Ridges Shrub Carr
Western Coulee and Ridges Coldwater streams
Western Coulee and Ridges Coolwater streams
Western Coulee and Ridges Warmwater rivers

* Ecological priority score is a relative measure that is not meant for comparison between species. This score does not consider socio-economical factors that may dictate protection and/or management priorities differently than those determined solely by ecological analysis. Further, a low ecological priority score does not imply that management or preservation should not occur on a site if there are important reasons for doing so locally.

Back to Top

Threats and Conservation actions

Conservation actions respond to issues or threats, which adversely affect species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) or their habitats. Besides actions such as restoring wetlands or planting resilient tree species in northern communities, research, surveys and monitoring are also among conservation actions described in the WWAP because lack of information can threaten our ability to successfully preserve and care for natural resources.

Threats/issues and conservations actions for rare animals

Back to Top

Last revised: Friday, November 11, 2016