Seasonal Exhibit Animals

Male box turtle

These reptiles are kept in the museum’s animal care facility during the colder months of the year.

Current Animals



At Museum


Blanding's Turtle (male)  unknown 1984 Habitat return impossible
Eastern Box Turtle (male) unknown prior to 1974 Habitat return impossible
Eastern Box Turtle (male) unknown prior to 1974 Habitat return impossible
Eastern Box Turtle (female) unknown prior to 1974  Habitat return impossible
Eastern Box Turtle (female) unknown 1980 Surrendered pet
Musk Turtle 2004 2004 Habitat return impossible
Musk Turtle 2004 2004 Habitat return impossible
Painted Turtle unknown 1979 Surrendered pet
Spotted Turtle unknown prior to 1974 Habitat return impossible
Spotted Turtle unknown prior to 1974 Missing one foot
Wood Turtle unknown 1992 Habitat return impossible
Garter Snake unknown 2017 Habitat return impossible

Learn More About These Animals...

Blanding’s Turtle (Emydoidea blandingii)

Length: 6 – 9 inches /16 – 22 centimeters                             
Weight: 1 ½ - 6 pounds /700 – 3,100 grams

  • One of the main identifying characteristics of the Blanding’s Turtle is its canary yellow chin and throat.
  • These turtles are travelers. Each day in spring they may travel the distance of two football fields between their feeding and resting sites, and females may travel a mile or more in search of a good site to lay eggs.
  • Blanding’s turtles are particularly vulnerable to road mortality and habitat destruction. In Massachusetts, they are a “Threatened” species.

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Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina)

Length: 4 ½ - 6 ½ inches /11 – 16 centimeters                     
Weight: 1 – 2 pounds / 300 – 525 grams

  • Box Turtles are mainly terrestrial. While they can swim if necessary, they bob like corks in the water and aren’t very graceful.
  • Among the longest-lived animals, at least one Box Turtle is known to have lived 138 years.
  • A few reasons why Box Turtles are threatened are: habitat destruction, road mortality, and collection for pets. This is a species of “Special Concern” in Massachusetts.

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Musk Turtle (Sternotherus odoratus)

Length:  3 – 5 inches / 8 – 14 centimeters                             
Weight: about 21 ounces /600 grams

  • These turtles, also known as “Stinkpots” get their name from the foul-smelling musk they secrete when frightened.
  • Musk Turtles have high, domed shells which are often covered with thick coats of algae.
  • Even though they are common, their well-camouflaged bodies and mostly nocturnal habits make Musk Turtles a relatively unknown turtle.

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Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta)

Length: about 9 inches /25 centimeters                                
Weight: about 13 ounces /370 grams

  • Painted Turtles are found in almost every body of fresh water in Massachusetts. With their love of basking in the sun at the water’s edge they are arguably the most visible turtle as well.
  • These turtles are surprisingly fast swimmers, with large paddle-shaped hind feet, streamlined shells, and muscles warmed up in the sun.
  • At night, painted turtles sleep at the bottom of the pond. This is also where they will spend the winter, and sometimes they can be observed swimming beneath clear ice.

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Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata)

Length:  3 ½ - 5 inches /9 - 14 centimeters                            
Weight:  8 – 12 ounces /225 – 340 grams

  • Spotted turtles are most active in spring and fall. They can be observed swimming in ponds where there is still ice in spring, and will become inactive during the warmest part of summer.
  • Female turtles lay relatively few eggs, usually only three or four at each nesting.
  • Because of their small size, these turtles are vulnerable to predators, particularly Raccoons.

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Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta)

Length: 5 ½ - 8 inches /14 – 20 centimeters                         
Weight: 14 - 50 ounces / 400 – 1,500 grams

  • Wood Turtles require habitat along slow-moving, medium sized rivers with sandy bottoms and surrounded by forest. These turtles overwinter in this type of habitat, and will be found here in spring and fall as well.
  • Wood Turtles will stomp on the ground, one foot at a time, to mimic the percussive pattern of raindrops hitting the ground. The vibrations fool earthworms into emerging from the soil and becoming food for the turtle.
  • Because their habitats are vulnerable to human disturbance, and they are a slow-maturing species, Wood Turtles are a species of “Special Concern” in Massachusetts.

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Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis)

Length: 18 – 54 inches / 46 – 137 centimeters                     
Weight: about 5 ounces / 150 grams

  • Garter snakes get their name because they resemble a garter, a woven strap used in the past to hold up stockings.
  • Garter snakes are easily found in the garden, as they eat the resident earthworms and slugs.
  • When frightened, Garter Snakes will release a foul-smelling musk that is nearly impossible to wash off your hands.

 Learn more about snakes >