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, Québec, 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.

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