A male wood turtle trying to court a female from the beginning of November 2018.
Courtship usually leads to breeding in this Pennsylvania species of special concern and these two were definitely not disturbed during this observation.
Courting behavior is quite common throughout various wildlife species in order to reproduce. Many species of turtles will put on quite the display both actively (male and females headbobbing, gentle caressing, dances, fighting, etc.) and passively (males with bright coloration, males growing longer claws, etc.) during their breeding seasons to carry on their genetics. Genotype (genetic makeup of organism) to preferred phenotype (visible result of genes and environment). These characteristics contribute to the overall fitness of an animal and allow the species to carry on. In this case, the male had already secured his spot and was gently massaging the female. I have a vid I can post if there's anyone who would like to see this behavior, haha. Anyways, she likely carried him and other males around for awhile earlier this month.
The wood turtle on top was the first turtle I marked at this site in October of 2015. He has been everywhere in every season through the years that I've known him. I utilize photos a lot in order to ID the turtles rather than disturb them.
Fall is not only the season for bird migrations, but its also the season when Wood Turtles begin migrating back to forested streams to hibernate. Locally known as "ol' red legs" or "skilpots", this semi-aquatic turtle has experienced dramatic declines throughout its range as a result of habitat loss, road mortality, and illegal poaching for the pet trade. With funding from a Competitive State Wildlife Grant, DGIF has been conducting surveys and working with various conservation partners, private landowners and even a local State Senator (Richard "Dick" Black), to help stop this decline and protect the remaining populations. Visit www.americanturtles.org to learn more about this species and our conservation efforts. #🐢 #vawildlife#turtle#gooutdoorsva#woodturtle
This sweet smile belongs to our new wood turtle patient, and a species of special concern in both ME and NH. Wood turtles are listed as globally endangered through the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, and their fate has the same causes as our box, Blanding’s and spotted turtles: poaching and rapid development/ loss of habitat. This patient came to us due to poaching, he was confiscated by ME IF&W from a local classroom. He has lost his front left foot, and it is unclear when this happened. Unfortunately he did not go to a wildlife rehabilitator, so the foot is now completely gone. It is unclear whether it could have been saved.
He is otherwise healthy, though we are evaluating whether his time in “inappropriate human possession”(IHP)has made him tame and unafraid of predators. In the wild, this could mean he could easily be captured again and kept as a pet or sold on the black market, or easily attacked by a raccoon or other natural predator. Wood turtles are also semi aquatic turtles, spending the majority of their time in and around rivers, flood plains, and oak/ maple forests or fields surrounding their rivers and streams. We also need to evaluate mobility and how he has adapted to the loss of the front foot.
We have several inquiries to biologists and turtle specialists on post release data of IHP turtles along with semi-aquatic turtles with similar disability. With their populations so critical and the fact that adults cannot breed until they reach 14-18 years old, each individual that can make it back can be substantial for local populations. But, we would never set up a patient for mortality. Stay tuned, and please spread the word that it is inhumane and illegal to take turtles like this from the wild. Let’s live wildlife the right way, when they are free to live their natural full lives💚🐢#conservationmedicine#environmentaleducation#cfw#centerforwildlife#woodturtle#ifyoucareleavethemthere
A phone voucher shot of my lifer #WoodTurtle (Glyptemys insculpta) found on the side of a river in Connecticut back in late August.
Wood turtles are a species of special concern in CT and are in decline due to habitat loss and fragmentation and road mortality. This is the only individual I’ve ever seen, although next year I’m hoping to see some more. One of my favorite turtle species for sure! #speciesofspecialconcern#Glyptemys#Connecticut
The aptly named North American wood turtle in some brushy habitat. This is a male from last week.
Wood turtles get their name from the sculpted carapace (top of shell) they have which resembles the annuli of a tree. Some other turtle species have annuli that can be seen on the carapace, but not many have the definition like wood turtles do. Typical growth patterns of some species of turtles are a lot like trees - you can count the annuli on the plastron (bottom of shell) and estimate age. The plastron of this male is almost completely worn away. I learned that when you see this wear, the turtle usually has significant age. It wouldn't surprise me of this male is pushing 30yo or more, along with many others at this site.
This specific site has changed a lot over the last century. The population of wood turtles here have seen agriculture/cattle come and go, torrential flooding, and even habitat management for trout. Right now they are experiencing invasive plants establish themselves after some less-dense invasive plants were cut out. These plants had seeded when various storms affected Pennsylvania over the last 15 years. The turtles here just switched up their basking areas in order to avoid the density of the more aggressive invasive plants 🌿🐢
A female wood turtle relaxes underneath a favorite log jam. Most people will only notice wood turtles when they're out in the open on land, as they have a unique sculpted carapace (top shell) that allows them to blend in well within their environments. The fall is a fairly busy time for these turtles in Pennsylvania. The other afternoon I began to think about how certain aspects of nature are similar to every day human life. In general, it can look chaotic - in that there's a lot going on at every moment. Both can be stressful at various points, but at other times they can be relaxing. Simple enough outlook.
When you spend countless hours that add up to years with creatures of habit, you can allow yourself to learn their typical behaviors. The places they like and don't like to be, good & bad routines, things they like and don't like, daily activity levels, etc. This is true for what we know of human-human interactions and human-wildlife research. Like many species, wood turtles have an interesting social structure within their populations that I'll continue to try to understand, like people. For me, the daily overwhelming activity that occurs in nature while I'm out and about is relaxing 😌
Fall fieldwork is the best fieldwork 🐢🍁 My field season finally came to a close last week and although I'm sad I don't have an excuse to be up north nearly every weekend, I'm pretty stoked to avoid that 6 hours of driving.
Also, shoutout to Richard for helping me multiple times with canoeing and telemetry!
Meet Betty Boomer our naturalist and scientist comes in once a month and shares our passion for nature. Yesterday Betty brought in the last monarch to be released (we hope it makes it to Mexico on time!) and she showed us a wood turtle. We walked our nature trail and built mini ponds in the classroom. Such fun! #nature#science#woodturtle#monarch#montessori#montessoriofnewpaltz
A short break from inktober to show off the beautiful herps I'm working with rn
1. Alex, a juvenile Argentinan Tegu
2. Dusty the beardy chilling
3.Charlie the blue toungued skink being adorable and fat (he's on a diet)
4. Freya the wood turtle looking cute.
5. Lucille the map turtle, who may secretly be a boy
6. Betty the cane toads eyes, looking like galaxies 🌌👨🚀🚀 #Herps#herpetology#canetoad#tegu#skink#woodturtle#mapturtle#scalybabies