• Saugus Iron Works Panorama

    Saugus Iron Works

    National Historic Site Massachusetts


Snapping Turtle

Common Snapping Turtle

(Daniel Noon, NPS)

Presently, three species of reptiles have been identified within Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site, the eastern garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis), the northern brown snake (Storeyia dekayi dekayi), and the common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina). These reptiles are pretty elusive and are able to camouflage themselves within the wetland areas bordering the Saugus River.

The eastern garter snake and the northern brown snake can be seen from early spring through summer and fall where they inhabit marshes, woodlands, hillsides, streams, and drainage ditches.

While the garter snake and brown snake can be seen over a long period of time through many seasons, the common snapping turtle makes its appearance for a very short time during the summer. During this period, female snapping turtles slowly emerge from the protective waters of the Saugus River, locate suitable nesting areas in gravel and sand, and lay between twenty and forty eggs before returning to the river. Many of the eggs are eaten by raccoons before the turtles have the chance to develop; however, the small turtles that do manage to survive quickly find their way back to the Saugus River, where they will mature and reach weights of up to 35 pounds. These turtles, in turn, will repeat the circle of life, ensuring the survival of the species for future generations.

Did You Know?

Painting by Don Trianti depicts the first National Guard muster that took place in late 1636/7. Civilian soldiers are in formation dressed in buff coats, helmets, and bandoliers. They drill with their muskets with smoke coming from the chimneys of their thatched-roof houses in the background.

On Thursday, January 10, 2013 President Obama signed into law HR1339 which designates Salem, Massachusetts as the birthplace of the National Guard. Future ironworks founder John Winthrop, Jr. was commissioned as Lieutenant Colonel of the East Regiment on March 9, 1636/7. The East Regiment included the communities of Salem, Saugus (changed to Lynn later in 1637), Ipswich, and Newbury.