I was having a nice evening walk near one of the nature reservations in Andover MA, close to Tewksbury, when I've found such a footprint. I'm really sorry for image quality, though. So it's a wet, bog-like, piece of ground, two lanes of deep small holes (probably the actual footprints) - the distance between them is like 25-30 centimeters (10-12 inches) - and the ground in the middle looks like something was dragged. In the top left corner of a picture the ground seems to be pushed below, and the hole is filled with water.

I'm not from US, and have almost no idea about Massachusetts fauna, but to me it looks like a tortoise. It was lying on the ground, thinking it's slow thoughts - that's how the hole filled with water appeared - then it decided to do some action, got up and moved, dragging it's plastron upon the ground.

That's the best idea I have. But it should be pretty big tortoise, 10-12 inches wide. I wonder if there are any in MA. Does anyone recognize this footprint?

Some footprints

  • @Sue: Don't pick up a snapping turtle. They got that name for a reason. They can extend their neck and snap at most of their body. Large ones are strong enough to break a finger bone. Jun 24, 2016 at 12:40
  • Yeah, I suppose it's good that I haven't met it - I would definitely try to grab it and it would definitely try to bite me )
    – Usurer
    Jun 24, 2016 at 13:09
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    @OlinLathrop Right you are, but we'd never do that anyway. No matter which way you lift or pull on it, you can break its back. Also, some breeds of turtle in Massachusetts are endangered or threatened. Respect for this, and all animals, is top priority. Humans and cars are number one killers of all turtles in Massachusetts. If you see one in the street, the best thing to do is stop all traffic and wait for it to cross. Walking behind some will cause them to move a bit faster, but mostly it's about patience! Jun 24, 2016 at 16:16
  • If you have to move a large turtle, a good way to do it is with a snow shovel and a hand truck. You gently nudge the turtle onto the snow shovel and then nudge the snow shovel onto the hand truck. One person then pushes the hand truck and another, walking backwards, holds the snow-shovel. Did this several years ago with a turtle in the middle of our road. Takes patience!
    – ab2
    Jun 25, 2016 at 16:04

1 Answer 1


This does look like some sort of turtle. Snapping turtles can easily get to the size you mention, and are fairly common. The picture doesn't give the impression the tracks are really 10 inches apart. They seem narrower than that, which would open the possibility for a number of other turtles. Box turtles get to a reasonable size, and then there are a list of other more rare possibilities.

  • 1
    I hadn't got an idea then to put something near for a scale - like a box of matches ( Anyway, scince now I know that there are quite big turtles out there, I'll be more attentive when hanging out in the woods, and maybe I'll get a chance to meet one.
    – Usurer
    Jun 24, 2016 at 13:14

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