Page 127 - A Field Guide to Fairfax County's Plants and Wildlife
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d Turtle

(Glyptemys insculpta)


An adult’s carapace is brown
with yellow streaks and deep
growth rings that look like they
were carved. The hatchling
carapace is smoother. The plastron is yellow with black blotches. Adults
grow up to 22 centimeters long. Wood Turtles are mature by 20 years old.
Mating typically occurs in fall. These turtles return to water and become less
active from October through December. They hibernate underwater in muddy
stream banks through February. They begin moving around on land again in
March. Females make nests from May through July. Females give no parental
care after laying and carefully covering the eggs, which hatch in late summer.

Distribution and Habitat Some Wood Turtles hunt by
thumping their front feet or plastron
The Wood Turtle is found in all five on the ground, causing earthworms
physiographic provinces. It lives on to come to the surface only to
land and in water, along forested become a turtle’s next meal.
rivers and streams, swamps, marshy
meadow and farmland habitats. This When they are not feeding, Wood
turtle is affected by destruction and Turtles spend their mornings or
degradation of riparian habitat (the afternoons resting in the sun during
area where land and streams meet). the warmer months. Lying on the
The Commonwealth of Virginia lists ground, their body temperatures
the Wood Turtle as a threatened can reach a toasty 30 to 35 degrees
species. Celsius. (That is about 86 to 95
degrees Fahrenheit.)
Role in Food Web

It eats algae, moss, herbs, woody
plants, mushrooms, slugs, snails,
worms, insects, aquatic crustaceans
and tadpoles. It is eaten by large
fish, Virginia Opossums, cats and
dogs, wading birds and crows.
Raccoons and skunks eat Wood
Turtle eggs.

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