Wood turtles can be found basking on grassy hummocks in the shrubby undergrowth along the edges of streams, or foraging out in the adjacent meadows and swamplands. Being semi-aquatic animals, they prefer lowland streams with moderate currents. This slow-moving reptile is easily identified by its carapace, which is comprised of a series of fused tannish-brown plates on the back, and a yellowish-orange bottom surface, with a pattern of black blotches. In Vermont, this species has a natural heritage status of S3, which means it is uncommon and/or there is some threat to its survival. In addition, Vermont’s Wildlife Action Plan has designated the wood turtle as a high priority on its list of Species of Greatest Conservation Need. As a species of special concern, it is recommended that all sightings be reported, and that critical habitats be protected.
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