• Saugus Iron Works Panorama

    Saugus Iron Works

    National Historic Site Massachusetts

Reptiles

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?

stone tools

At the time of English settlement, the native community in what is today Saugus was led by a woman known only as the “Great Squaw Sachem”. It was not uncommon for a woman to take the lead as sachem after her husband died. Our squaw sachem had several contemporaries; 3 in Connecticut, 2 in Rhode Island and 1 in Massachusetts. What did the colonists think of this practice?