Every elementary school aged child in the Borough is “educated” by older siblings, etc. about the presence of snapping turtles in Mountain and Birchwood lakes. Although no one actually knows anyone who has ever been bitten, these turtles are a source of fear throughout the ages!
Probable Turtle Species in Mountain Lakes
Species: Common Musk Turtle; Stinkpot.
Scientific Name: Sternotherus odoratus.
Status in Mountain Lakes: A road-killed individual was found on the Boulevard near Borough Hall in 1993 (Radis 2008).
Comments: Confirmed to be present in Denville and Parsippany in 2002 (Radis 2008).
Possible Turtle Species in Mountain Lakes
Species: Wood Turtle
Scientific Name: Clemmys insculpta
State Status: Threatened.
Status in Mountain Lakes: Possible.
Comments: No breeding habitat is present in the Borough, but an extant population exists in the Rockaway River in Denville and Boonton Townships, and a road-killed female (ca. 30 years old) was found along the intersection of Pocono Road and Old Boonton Road near the Rockaway River Country Club, a few hundred feet from the Mountain Lakes boundary (Radis 2008). Wood Turtles can wander up to a half-mile or more from their breeding areas in streams and rivers (Zappalorti 1982).
Species: Eastern Box Turtle
Scientific Name: Terrapine carolina carolina
Status in Mountain Lakes: Road-killed individuals were found on West Shore Drive in 1987 and 2003.
Comments: Thought to be greatly declining throughout its range in New Jersey (Radis 2008; Zappalorti 2008).