Fun Wood Turtle Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Oct 20, 2022 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Isobel Murphy
Wood turtle facts tell us all about the species with the shell.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.2 Min

Are you fascinated by turtles? If yes, then here we have some of the most interesting information on the magnificent wood turtle species.

The North American wood turtle or the black wood turtle (scientific name: Glyptemys insculpta) is seen in different locations in North America. They can mainly be seen in northeastern parts of the United States and Canada, such as northern Michigan, southern Ontario, and Quebec.

These animals love to stay near water sources, like streams, rivers, or creaks. The turtle has a beautiful grayish-brown colored shell and yellow-colored plastron. The lower parts of its neck, legs, and chin can be yellow, orange, or red.

The females lay about three to 18 eggs each breeding season, and the mortality rate of the eggs is very low. The population of adult individuals of wood turtles is classified as Endangered.

For more relatable content, check out these map turtle facts and painted turtle facts for kids.

Wood Turtle Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a wood turtle?

A wood turtle is a kind of turtle.

What class of animal does a wood turtle belong to?

The wood turtle belongs to the class Reptilia of animals.

How many wood turtles are there in the world?

The population of wood turtles is facing great threats and is showing a decreasing trend. The main population density can be seen around riverbanks and stream valleys. However, other than this habitat range, their population is very low in numbers.

Their population is decreasing because of habitat loss, the illegal pet trade, human interference and activities, nest predation by raccoons, and global warming. This is why they have been classified as Endangered. The exact wood turtle population size is not known.

Where does a wood turtle live?

The small population that these turtles have is spread throughout a range of areas in the northeastern United States and eastern parts of Canada. In the south, the species can be found from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to Pennsylvania and New England.

In the west, they can be found from southern Ontario and Quebec, northern Wisconsin and Michigan to the east of Minnesota. They can also be seen from the northern part of New Jersey to the northern part of Virginia.

Among their population, come turtles also live in the northeastern parts of Iowa. They are not commonly found in these places, but their population is present in scattered patterns throughout this geographical range.

What is a wood turtle's habitat?

The average wood turtle habitat can be found in areas around rivers, freshwater streams, and creaks. Mainly they can be found in habitats like swamps, riparian woodland habitats, areas with wet substrate, open grassy areas, berry thickets, or shrubs.

These turtles like living around rocky or sandy streams, or near streams that have sand or gravel bottoms. Most wood turtles can be seen living within a short distance of a water body, and they don't move long distances from their habitat.

Who do wood turtles live with?

This North American turtle species is known to be a solitary species. Most of the time they can be seen basking in the sun alone. They only come together when the mating season arrives.

How long does a wood turtle live?

Wood turtles live for a long time. When they live in the wild, they usually live up to 50 years, but in captivity, these turtles can live up to about 60 years.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season of wood turtles happens before the months of May and June. Adults reach sexual maturity at the age of 14-20 years.

The turtles, both males and females, show competitive behavior at this time and they may even become aggressive. Both males and females can be seen doing a certain type of courtship dance. Males and females move their heads back and forth during this dance, and the male then nips at the female's limbs and shell.

After mating, in the months of May to June, the females search for the perfect nesting sites, and they lay between three and 18 eggs each in their nests. The female then covers the nest, and incubation happens for the next 47-69 days.

The female leaves after covering the eggs. The eggs hatch around the months of August to September, and the hatchlings don't spend winter in the nest.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status for the wood turtle according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature is Endangered. Wood turtles are protected in most parts of their habitats and they have been included in the CITES Appendix II. Some conservation efforts are being made to make up for the habitat loss that they have suffered.

Wood Turtle Fun Facts

What does a wood turtle look like?

Wood turtles are medium-sized turtles that have a beautiful rough carapace. The carapace can be tan, brown, or grayish-brown in color, and the lower side of a wood turtle shell (also called the plastron) is usually yellow in color with some dark patches on it.

The carapace has a central ridge or keel, which is made up of grooves and ridges that give it a look of a pyramid.

Clear concentric growth annuli can be seen on the scutes of their central keel.

The upper sides of their head and legs are usually dark gray to solid black in color. Sometimes some yellow spots or specks can be seen on the head, and the lower surface of their legs, neck, and chin can be yellow, orange, or red depending on the geographical range of the turtles.

Wood turtles have a yellow-colored plastron or bottom shell.

How cute are they?

These turtles have a beautiful look to them, which can be considered extremely cute. They are also intelligent and have not been recorded to show any aggressive behavior towards humans, which certainly makes them more adorable.

How do they communicate?

Not much is known about how wood turtles communicate, except for the visual cues they use during courtship rituals. During this time they use visual cues to communicate with each other. Turtles are not known to use vocal means to communicate.

How big is a wood turtle?

Adult turtles of the species can grow up to be about 10 in (25.4 cm). The carapace length of these turtles can be around 6.2-9.8 in (15.7-25 cm).

These turtles are about eight times smaller than leatherback sea turtles, the biggest turtles in the world. The average length of a leatherback sea turtle can be around 70.9-86.6 in (1.8-2.2 m).

How fast can a wood turtle move?

All turtles move at a slow pace, but when compared to others, wood turtles can move at a little faster speed. They move at a speed of about 0.2 mph (0.3 kph). The spiny softshell turtle is much faster than the wood turtle.

How much does a wood turtle weigh?

Wood turtles are medium-sized turtles. Adults weigh around 1.5-2.5 lb (0.7-1.1 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for a male or female turtle of the species. Males are simply called male wood turtles and females are called female wood turtles.

What would you call a baby wood turtle?

The baby of a turtle is known as a hatchling.

What do they eat?

Wood turtles are omnivorous in nature. They feed on both animal food, crustaceans, plant foods, like fruits, and they can also eat both water-based food and land-based food as well.

A plant-based wood turtle diet includes fruit, flowers, and the leaves of many plants including raspberry, violet, willow, and strawberry plants. Their animal-based diet includes snails, insects, fungi, worms, and slugs.

They even have been seen eating dead animals. They usually are unable to catch fast-moving prey due to their own slow speed.

To catch prey like earthworms, they thump on the ground, which confuses the worms. Suspecting that the vibration might be because of an approaching mole, the worms come out and fall victim to the waiting wood turtle.

Are they dangerous?

These turtles cannot be described as dangerous in the conventional manner as there has been no record of anyone being harmed by them. They are only known to show aggressive behavior towards turtles of their own species during the breeding season.

Would they make a good pet?

Wood turtles can be kept as pets. They are rather friendly and calm in nature.

A wood turtle pet is fun to be around and these turtles also live for a long time. Additionally, wood turtle care is not hard.

They are an intelligent species, which means that they can become accustomed to a captive life pretty easily. Despite this, wood turtle populations in the wild are decreasing by each day and one of the main reasons for this is the growth of the pet trade, so it's better to leave them in their wild habitat.

Did you know...

Most of the wood turtle eggs that the female lays fall victim to predation by shrews, skunks, raccoons, or foxes. Sometimes, not a single wood turtle hatchling survives from a clutch. This happens because the only protection the eggs get is being hidden by the female when she lays them.

How to tell the age of a wood turtle?

There are a few ways to tell the age of a turtle, but the best way is to count the rings on the scutes of the turtle. In the case of wood turtles, they have clear growth annuli on the scutes of their central keel.

The wider rings among these occur when they've had a good eating season, typically in the warmer months, and the narrow rings indicate the opposite of this. These are normally from the colder months when there's a deficiency of food.

Hence, when you finish counting the rings, always divide them by two. If a turtle has 10 rings on its scute, the chances are that this particular turtle will be five years of age.

What do you do if you find a wood turtle?

If you find a wood turtle on the road you can help it get to the direction it was trying to go in or help it reach a stream with a forest nearby. If you find a wood turtle near a stream, leave them be. Do not take them home as they are already an endangered species.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles from our hawksbill sea turtle facts and Florida softshell turtle facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable wood turtle coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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