Monday, August 24, 2009

Wood Turtle


     The wood turtles scientific name is Glyptemys insculpta. It is one of two species under the genus Glyptemys. Until 2002 its genus classification was Glyptemys, when the wood turtle and the bog turtle were realized to form a distinct group by genetic analysis. The wood turtle spends most of its time in woods that are located near streams, rivers and ponds. Wood turtles have a brown, sculptured shell with pyramid-shaped spots. Their shells are made maily of keratin and bone. They can grow up to 9 inches long. There are two phenotypes, orange'redlegs' morph with a yellow ringed iris and a yellow 'yellowlegs' morph with a solid black iris Schnirel.
     The geographical range of the wood turtle is through the Canadian Provinces of Ontario, Qu├ębec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, and most of the northeastern and some of the midwestern United States down to northern Virginia.
     Wood turtles have an omnivorous diet. They seem to prefer animal matter than plant matter. A hatchling wood turtle can eat a earthworm and be full for a few days. As they get older they tend to have a more vegitarian diet but not by choice. The animals that a wood turtle would eat would be earthworms, slugs, leeches, snails, various insects, insect larvae, tadpoles, frogs, and newborn mice. They will also scavenge through the remains of fish and birds. Also they will eat the eggs and young of certain birds. They will eat certain species of mosses and mushrooms, as well as certain grasses and algae. They eat the leaves of alder, willow, and birch trees. They eat flowers such as wild violets, cinquefoil, and dandelions. They also eat strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. Mushrooms can consist of up to 37% of an adult wood turtles diet. In captivity you can feed a wood turtle apples, apricots, bananas, cherries, grapes, pears, raspberries, strawberries, cantaloupes, honeydew melons, watermelons, boiled carrots, corn, romaine lettuce, spinach, and mixed vegetables that were purchased frozen. They will also eat high-quality kitten chow, canned dog food, live adult crickets, earthworms, hard-boiled eggs with crushed shell, dead mice that were purchased frozen, chicken hearts and livers, and live minnows purchased from bait shops.
     Wood turtles are one of the more intelligent species of turtles. The record for the longest-lived wood turtle in the wild is 33 years, but they can live much longer in captivity. So if you were to keep a wood turtle, provide them with a natural area including water, and feed them a well-balanced diet.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Musk Turtle

Musk Turtle (Stinkpot)
(Sternotherus odoratus)
     The stinkpot turtle, or musk turtle, as some of us might know it as, is a small cute turtle. Cute enough that you might go after it to grab and keep as a pet. However, there is a little secret that you might not know about this fascinating creature at first glance. The scientific name for this gorgeous turtle is Sternotherus Oderatus. This name was given to the turtle by a gentleman that went by the name of John Edward Gray in 1825. 
     The Stinkpot usually grows from 3-6 inches. On average they will grow to 4 inches. This turtle has stripes that run across it’s snout. These stripes are yellowish in color. The stinkpot turtle mainly got it’s nick name because of a foul musky odor, that it releases when it feels that it’s in danger. This defense mechanism comes from glands that the stinkpot turtle has under it’s carapace or shell. 
     The Stinkpot usually lives in slow moving water, however they are good swimmers and won't mind deeper waters. They can be found anywhere from all the way up north, in Canada, to the northern, southern and western parts of the United States.
      This reptile feeds on small fish and or insects that hang out in shallow waters, as well as plants, categorizing this small fellow as an omnivorous. However, the younger ones prefer to be more on the carnivorous side and rather feed on animals such as snails, Cray fish, and insects among others. They also feed on algae and plants like the adult Stinkpot does. 
     The new members of the family come in late summer or fall. The stink pot turtle lays anywhere between 2-9 eggs in a small burrow by the slow moving water. Their eggs are hard shell eggs that hold the turtles that are less then 1 inch in length for about 6 months.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Box Turtle

Eastern Box Turtles

Box turtles have incredibly long life spans. They can live up to and over 125 years of age.

The Eastern Box Turtle's shell is very unique. When frightened the turtle can completely close its shell tightly, head in and all. The turtle can remain enclosed in it shell for several hours before having to take a breath. This turtle is so different you would never think they were closely related to painted and aquatic slider turtles. Eastern box turtles have been added to the threatened species and if planning to find these turtles in the wild, a permit is needed to keep them. Habitat destruction and overcollecting for pet sale has caused a decline in the species' population.

Living Space

Eastern box turtles need a large living space. They like to do a lot of exploring, the same amount of time they spend hanging out. Wild box turtles rarely travel more than 700 feet away from its home.

Even though these turtles are terrestrial (land turtles) they like hanging out in water. It is necessary to have a water dish big enough for the turtle to climb into. An ultraviolet light is needed also, as for all turtles.

When winter comes, the hibernating turtle will bury itself in mud, or leaf litter. However, if kept inside and temperatures are good, hibernation is not necessary. Eastern box turtles can be very territorial, males more than the females. If more than one turtle is living in the same space, don't be surprised if they snap at each other. This is to establish who is boss.


When eastern box turtles are young they are carnivorous, and as they grow older they become more herbivorous. In the wild they will eat worms, berries, plants, snails, and even salamanders. For pet (captive) turtles, their diet might include:
-leafy green veggies
-peanut butter-raspberries
-canned dog food

Pet turtles tend to get overfed, becoming overweight to a point where the box turtle can't even close its shell completely. Therefore captive turtles should only be fed every other day.


Male eastern box turtles have a sunken in plastron(belly), while the females have a more bulging plastron. Males have red eyes, females have brown. Eastern box turtles breed in the spring. When the female is ready to lay her eggs, she will nest in sand or mud. She lays up to ten soft, oval shaped eggs. Females can lay eggs up to the age of 55.


Taking about three months to hatch, the hatchlings are born with round shells and are roughly one and a half inches long. It takes twelve years for eastern box turtles to reach sexual maturity, at that time the turtles are about 5 inches long.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

When and How much to feed a freshwater turtle

For new hatchling turtles you should feed them twice a day for 60 days. After the 60 days only feed them once a day. The amount of food should be about half as much as it can eat at one time.

For juevenile and adult turtles feed them every other day. Try alternating. For example feed them two days in a row and give them three days without feeding. Serving size should be half of what the turtle can eat when its completely full.

The only way to really know if your turtle is getting the right proportions of food is to weigh it regular. Try weighing your turtle every 1-2 months and see if it is gaining weight. If it is a young turtle your weighing check it every 3-4 weeks. Younger turtles will be gaining much more weight every weight check than the older turtles. If your turtle has lost weight either your not feeding it enough or your turtle is sick and it should be taken to the vet.

Spotted Turtle

Spotted Turtle
Clemmys guttata

Size: 3-5 inches.

Range: Native to Northestern United States.

Habitat: Marshy meadows, boggy areas, wet woodlands, ponds, and shallow soft bottomed streams.

Behavior: Active Early in the day.

Feeding: Carnivorous and will feed in the wild on small fish, aquatic insects, and invertebrates. Captive Spotted turtles can be fed eartchworms, crickets, and goldfish.

Breeding: Will mate March to May. When June comes the female will find a area to lay her eggs. The female can lay up to 8 eggs but usually the clutch is 4-5 eggs. Hatchlings will emerge in August to September but may overwinter and emerge next spring.

Wood Turtle

Wood Turtle
Clemmys insculpta

Size: Female 4-6 inches, Males can grow up to 9 inches.

Range: United States, Canada and is protected in all states.

Habitat: Streams in woodlands, marshy meadows, farm country, swampland.

Behavior: Active during the day. Mostly between 6am-2pm. Excellent climber and intelligent.

Breeding: One clutch of 6-10 small flexible eggs. Can lay more at one time and have been researched to lay 19 eggs. They are laid from May to June and hatch September to October. If the temperature stays too cold they may overwinter in nest and hatch next warm season.