Wood Turtle

Glyptemys insculpta

Distinguishing Characteristics

Photo: Trevor Persons

  • Medium-sized to large, carapace (top part of shell) approximately 5.5 to 10 inches in length
  • Brown to grayish-brown sculpted carapace
  • Limbs and head are brownish-gray to dark gray above, yellow or orange underneath
  • Plastron (bottom part of shell) yellowish with large black blotches

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Status and Distribution in Maine

  • State Special Concern; Species of Greatest Conservation Need
  • Uncommon
  • Statewide

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Photo: Jonathan Mays


  • Slow-moving streams or rivers with sandy or silty substrates
  • Often in areas with deep pools and woody debris
  • Semi-terrestrial, often found in vegetated floodplains of streams and adjacent forests
  • Nests in areas of loose, sandy substrate such as sandbars along streams

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  • Omnivorous, diet includes leaves, grasses, berries, insects, earthworms, tadpoles, and newborn mice
  • Will “stomp” for earthworms, with footfalls presumably mimicking rainfall that brings earthworms to the surface, where they are then eaten

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Seasonal Changes

  • Hibernates in winter in small ponds or beneath undercut banks of slow streams or rivers

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Natural History Notes

  • Mating occurs throughout the year, with egg laying occurring in June and July. Females may store sperm from for several years before laying fertilized eggs
  • Long-lived and do not reach sexual maturity until 11 to 12 years old
  • In some areas, the population has been negatively impacted by illegal collection for the pet trade

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Share Your Sighting

There is much still to learn about the distribution and ecology of Maine's herpetofauna, and we encourage members of the public to share their photo-documented observations as part of the Maine Amphibian & Reptile Atlas Project (MARAP).

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Thank you for doing your part to help conserve Maine’s reptiles and amphibians.