The Wood Turtle has a moderately domed shell. Each scute is covered by a pyramidal stack of older and smaller scutes that form clear concentric rings. The brown or gray carapace has a weakly toothed posterior margin. The plastron is wide and yellow with black on the outer edges of the scutes. Wood Turtles have black heads and their legs and neck are yellow, orange, or red. They are 6-10 inches long.
They are primarily river turtles that prefer streams with a moderate slope and speed. They feed in uplands and fields that are adjacent to the streams. They will venture some distance from the stream (sometimes 1000 feet or more) but they rely on the stream for refuge and overwintering.
This species has a state natural heritage rank of S3 (uncommon, localized). Illegal collection has been a problem. The Wood Turtle has been designated a Species of Greatest Conservation Need (high priority) in Vermont’s Wildlife Action Plan, and is a species of special concern in Vermont. Please report all sightings of this species in Vermont. Take photos if possible. Even historic sighting information is useful.
G. insculpta used to be called Clemmys insculpta.
Species summary written by Kaile Burgess.