• 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?

Burning Charcoal

Colliers were skilled workers who created charcoal. To make this fuel, large mounds of wood were created and then allowed to slow burn from the inside-out. This process could take anywhere from ten to fourteen days, and required constant vigilance from the collier. If the mound were to burn too quickly the colliers would be left with nothing but a pile of ashes.