Seasonal Exhibit Animals
These reptiles are kept in the museum’s animal care facility during the colder months of the year.
Learn More About These Animals...
American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus)
Length: 2–4 inches / 5–10 centimeters
Weight: about ¾ ounce /21 grams
- The homely American Toad should be a welcome resident of vegetable and flower gardens because its diet includes snails, slugs, and beetles.
- Toxic, irritating chemicals produced in toads’ skins cause most predators to stay away. Snakes seem to be immune to the toxins, and Hog-nosed and Garter Snakes are the main predators of American Toads in Massachusetts.
- American Toads get all the water they need by absorbing it through their skin.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum)
Length: 13 – 68 inches / 35 – 175 centimeters
Weight: 1 – 1 ½ pounds / 400 – 750 grams
- Milk Snakes get their name from being found in barns, where they actively hunt mice, rats, and small birds.
- The triangular pattern on a milk Snake’s back often confuses people into thinking it is a Rattlesnake or Copperhead. The Milk Snake has a dark “Y” or “V” shaped spot on the top of its head, while the other two snakes have no spots on their heads.
- Like several other snake species, a Milk Snakes will vibrate the tip of its tail when alarmed.
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.
Norway Rat (Rattus norvegicus)
Length: about 15 inches /40 centimeters
Weight: about 14 ounces / 400 grams
- Originally native to northern China, Norway Rats have followed humans to every continent except Antarctica.
- A single female Norway Rat can give birth to about eight pups every two months, for as many as sixty young each year!
- Because of their size, reproductive rate, and superior sense of smell, Norway Rats can have a huge negative impact on the survival of other species of animals.
Meadow Vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus)
Length: from 5 – 7 inches /13 – 20 centimeters
Weight: about 1 ½ ounces /40 grams
- Unlike mice, Meadow Voles have short, furry tails, small eyes, are active during the day, and feed primarily on grasses and occasionally on insects. They are found in open fields and grassland areas.
- Even though they stay hidden from human eyes by staying in their grassy tunnels, Meadow Voles are more than three-quarters of the diet of many birds of prey. Almost all large carnivores in North America also dine on Meadow Voles.
White-footed Mouse (Peromyscus leucopus)
Length: from 6 – 8 inches /15 – 20 centimeters
Weight: about 0.8 ounces / 23 grams
- Unlike Meadow Voles, White-footed Mice have long tails, large eyes, are mostly nocturnal, and have an omnivorous diet of seeds, fruits, insects, and nuts. They can climb trees and are found in the forest.
- Even though they can carry diseases that affect humans (such as Lyme disease), White-footed Mice play an important role as the primary food source for several predators.