The wood turtle (Clemmys insculpta) is a moderately sized turtle with reddish-orange skin on portions of its neck and legs and a roughly textured, or sculpted shell. The adult's shell is about seven to eight inches long.
Turtles are an ancient group of animals, originating many millions of years ago. Wood turtles have likely been in Vermont for the past 10,000 years, following the retreat of the last glacier.
The Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) was named by Linneaus in 1758, and the genus name, Crotalus, literally means "hollow in the rocks" after the denning habit the Timber Rattlesnake uses.
Timber Rattlesnakes were bountied in Vermont until 1971, and designated endangered in 1987. They have a triangular shaped head to accommodate venom glands and injecting apparatus.
The Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum) has reddish-brown blotches outlined in black. They become darker with age. They also have a white "Y" (which may be complete or broken) on the back of their head. The Milksnake's underside has a white and black checkerboard pattern.
The Ribbonsnake (Thamnophis sauritus) has three yellow, length-wise stripes on a black background. A checkerboard pattern is rarely visible between the stripes. The head is dark reddish-brown over a white upper lip and there is a vertical white bar just in front of the eye. Also look for the mahogany stripe along the lower sides and edges of the belly.
Monitoring turtle distribution and nesting success helps determine trends and improves management and conservation efforts. Below are summaries for two turtle species the department is currently monitoring.