Wildlife & Habitat

  • Blanding's Turtle

    Blanding's turtle - USFWS.

    The Blanding’s turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) is a medium-sized, semi-aquatic freshwater turtle that is a threatened species in Massachusetts. The New England population is disjunct from the main portion of their range. They require a variety of wetland habitats, make frequent seasonal overland movements, and therefore suffer mortality not only from direct wetland habitat loss, but from landscape fragmentation as well.

    Biologists are partnering with researchers to establish a new population at the refuge. These turtles like to hide in vegetation and at least currently are not likely to be seen by visitors.

    Learn more about Blanding's turtles.

  • Great Blue Heron

    Great blue heron - Larry Warfield.

    Whether walking on the dike trail or sitting poised in the pools, the great blue heron is a majestic sight seen throughout the year at the Concord impoundments and Sudbury River. This stately heron has subtle blue-gray plumage and often stands motionless as it scans for prey or wades belly deep with long, deliberate steps. They might move so slowly you don’t even notice it and when you do it’s either striking a fish with its yellow dagger-like bill or flapping its 66-79 inch wingspan.

    Great blue herons can be found in varying wetlands and throughout the United States.

  • American Beaver

    American beaver - USFWS.

    Traces of American beaver can be seen along the trails adjacent to wetlands on the refuge, in the form of chewed upon trees. There are at least 5 beaver lodges at the refuge, but for the most part beavers are very elusive. If you want to see one, visit the spillway on Otter Alley or the fishing pier on Puffer Pond around dawn or dusk. You might hear it slap its tail!

  • Vernal Pools

    Vernal pools - USFWS.

    Vernal pools are temporary freshwater depressions, which hold spring rains and snowmelt waters, and then typically dry out during late summer. They are critical breeding habitat for amphibian and invertebrate species due to the lack of predatory fish. Therefore they are a priority habitat type within the state of Massachusetts. The vernal pools at Assabet are confirmed breeding habitat for the blue-spotted salamander, which is a state species of special concern. Every spring biologists survey these pools and document changes.