Wood Turtle, Glyptemys insculpta

Wood Turtle

Glyptemys insculpta

Excerpted from: Animal Diversity
Wood Turtle
Glyptemys insculpta
Lifespan 13 years
Length 6.3 to 9.8 inches
Color Ranges from yellowish-orange to red.
Gestation Period 47 to 69 days
Clutch Size 3 to 17 eggs
Diet Plant leaves and flowers of various, berries, fungi, slugs, snails, worms, and insects.


Adult wood turtles have a carapace length of 6.3 to 9.8 inches. The brownish to gray-brown carapace has a low central keel, and the scutes usually show well-defined concentric growth annuli, giving the shell a rough, "sculptured" appearance that probably gave the species its specific name (and perhaps its common name as well). In some specimens, the accumulated annuli may give each carapace scute a somewhat flattened pyramidal shape.

The carapaces of older specimens may be worn quite smooth. The vertebral scutes sometimes display radiating yellow streaks, or yellow pigment may be restricted to the keel. The hingeless plastron is yellow with a black blotch at the rear outer corner of each scute; there is a V-shaped notch at the tail. Plastral scutes display prominent annuli, though, as with the carapace, these can be worn smooth over time.


In the wild snapping turtles are estimated to live up to 13 years.


Wood Turtles are diurnal animals and spend much of their active time basking, whether on emergent logs and other debris along or over waterways, or on land, while hidden in grass or shrub thickets. As a species they are well adapted for the cool-temperate climate found throughout much of their range, and individual turtles can obtain body temperatures well above the air temperature by carefully orienting their shells towards the sun while maintaining a low profile out of the wind. Basking not only facilitates thermoregulation, but also allows vitamin D synthesis, and undoubtedly helps dislodge external parasites such as leeches.

Wood Turtles hibernate in winter (October through April in northern Wisconsin), generally on the bottom in the shallows of streams and rivers where the water will not freeze. Terrestrial hibernation has been reported, but is apparently the exception


Wood Turtles are an omnivorous species that can feed both in and out of water. Natural foods reported for the species include leaves and flowers of various herbaceous and woody plants (violet, strawberry, raspberry and willow), fruits (berries), fungi, slugs, snails, worms, and insects. They are usually slow, deliberate feeders, and seem incapable of capturing fish or other fast-moving prey, though they will opportunistically consume young mice or eggs, or scavenge dead animals

Further Reading:

 Beavers — Nature's Hydrologist, Part 2
 Garter Snakes — The Gardener's Friend
 Wisconsin Native Salamanders
 Goundhog or Woochuck: All The Facts
 Voles, Both The Good and The Bad

Bees flying footer graphic