Wood Turtle: â€œA beautiful species that need protection from getting extinct.â€
Wood Turtle as the name suggests is a medium sized turtle which has a broad brown or dull grey colored shell which measures about 13 to 23 cm in length. The tip of the shell often has black and yellow lines which radiate from it. The shell is low with plates that are like pyramids and has growth rings.
The skin of the wood turtle is generally dark brown or black. The neck and legs have shades of orange, yellow or brick-red and there may be light yellow dots speckled on the head. The wood turtle has a blunt black head and brown limbs. The male wood turtle have thick long tails and the anus is situated outside of the edge of the shell, while the females have smaller tails and their anus is within the boundaries of the shell. The males have lower shells which are concave for mating.
The wood turtle is known for its smartness and alert nature. They are usually seen in fields, along roadsides near slow-moving streams. They bask in the muddy river banks so they are sometimes also called â€œmud turtles.â€
As water pollution, forest erosion and irrigation have spoilt many of the places of habitation of the wood turtle it has now become semi-aquatic and they are found living along the rivers and streams in the forest.
The main food of the wood turtle includes insects, berries and different sorts of herbs as well as aquatic animals like snails, dead fish, tadpoles, algae or larvae of insects. Other sorts of food they feast on are new born mice, eggs of other turtles and eggs and baby nestlings of birds. A very interesting feature of Wood turtle is that they mimic the vibrations that are caused by the rain to pull out the worms from their burrows.
Like ornate box turtles, the wood turtles also live for about 58 years. Their mating season falls in spring. Females dig nests usually in June to lay the eggs for their offspring but it is not very easy to save the nest from predators like skunks, opossums and raccoons. If the nest is safe a clutch of about 20 eggs which had been laid in June will hatch by September. The hatchlings which are gray look very funny as their tail is very big compared to the tiny body.
The Wood Turtle species is on the verge of decline as collecting wood turtles for pets is on the rise and many people not knowingly pick up the turtle that has lost its way rather than leaving it in the forest or near the river shore. So people need to be made aware of this special gift that god has given us.
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