Field Guide to Maryland's Turtles (Order Testudines)
Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta)
Photo of Wood Turtle courtesy of Linh Phu.
Size: 5 1/2 inches – 7 1/2 inches. Record: 8 inches
- As its scientific name implies, the carapace (top shell)
of this turtle is rough, looking like it has been carved from wood.
- The growth rings (annuli) are very pronounced, giving
the scutes their distinctive pyramidal shape.
- The plastron (bottom shell) has no hinges and is creamy
yellow with black blotches along the outer back corner of each scute.
The underside of the chin and legs are colored with
bright yellow, orange or red. This gives the turtle its nickname, the "redleg"
Takes advantage of both aquatic and terrestrial habitats, but always remains
near water. On land, they may be found in a variety of usually forested
habitats, but may be found in fields and meadows and wetlands. In aquatic
areas, they prefer clear moving streams or rivers with gravel or hard-packed
How to Find:
Most active in the spring and fall, during its mating seasons. Especially
like to bask on logs in streams and rivers with vegetated shorelines, or in
woodlands with little cover, following emergence from hibernation.
Photo of Habitat for
courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers.
Distribution in Maryland:
May be found west of the Fall Line through the Piedmont and into Western
Maryland; infrequently found in Prince George's and Charles Counties.