Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Wood Turtles

Well, its early April and I've already found and documented 18 species of reptiles and amphibians since mid-March in Michigan this spring. Of these species that I've seen, there's a particular species of turtle that inhabits the northern region of the Lower Peninsula and into the Upper Peninsula. It is a turtle of clear, cool rivers and adjacent woodlands. It is of course Glyptemys insculpta, the Wood Turtle. These turtles are an intermediate between river turtles like the Northern Map Turtle and terrestrial turtles like the Eastern Box Turtle. Woods spend most of their time in the early spring in the rivers and then eventually move into the woodlands by early summer. In late March, a good friend and I decided to take a hike along a local river and see what sorts of herpetofauna we could find.

We noticed good numbers of Map Turtles basking on fallen logs, so we were hopeful that several other species would be out and about. There was no lack of snakes in the floodplain forest, as we found several species moving about in the warm afternoon sunshine.

Northern Brown Snake - Storeria dekayi

Eastern Garter Snake - Thamnophis sirtalis

Eventually by walking along the river's edge we got lucky. These things just stand out in the crystal clear water. He was in pursuit of a smaller wood turtle a little farther out, we just sat and watched him moving about for a few minutes.

Farther downstream we found two males out and about for a stroll along the river's edge. They were more than cooperative for pictures as they moved about along the forest floor. This species of turtle has more personality than any other reptile or amphibian I've ever encountered in the field.

Wood Turtles - Glyptemys insculpta

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