Eastern Box Turtle

Terrapene carolina

Mark Moran

The Eastern Box Turtle is the most well-known turtle in Virginia. They are easily identified by their bright markings. Box Turtles have a high, dome-shaped carapace (top part of shell) and a hinged plastron (bottom part). They are usually dark brown or olive-colored with bright orange or yellow patterns. The male will usually have red eyes and the female will have yellowish-brown eyes. They can grow up to eight inches long. Box turtles have a down-turned beak.

Dorothy DeLisle

Copyright, Mike Redmer

Michael J. Connor

Eastern Box Turtles are terrestrial, which means they live on land. They can be found in forests or meadows where there is moisture. Female box turtles will nest in the summer, laying three to eight eggs. The picture to the left shows a turtle excavating her nest.

Box Turtles are omnivorous (eats plants and animals). They eat slugs, snails, earthworms, wild strawberries and blackberries, mushrooms, insects (such as grasshoppers and crickets), and carrion (dead animals, such as ducks or frogs). The picture above on the left shows a turtle eating snails.

Copyright 2004, Jeremiah Easter

Eastern Box Turtles will stay in the same area, as long as they have everything they need (food, water, other turtles to mate with). Some people used to test this by marking a turtle's shell to see if they could find the same turtle in later years. You should not do this, because you could damage the turtle's shell! Turtles need a healthy shell to survive. Box turtles are some of the only turtles which can completely close their shell, protecting them from predators. Another way to identify turtles, without hurting them, is to draw part of the pattern on their shell. Keep your drawing safe and take it out if you think you found the same turtle!

Huntley Meadows Park

Interesting box turtle facts:

Eastern Box Turtles hibernate in the winter, usually under dead leaves or inside old stumps.

Females usually dig their nests on stormy evenings.

Turtle populations are in danger in other states (including Maryland) because of pesticides and people taking them out of the wild for pets.

Additional Media

Description
Type
Credit
Eastern Box Turtle Walking
Video
Mark Moran
Eastern Box Turtle Climbing
Video
Mark Moran
Boxt Turtle Skeleton
Link to Image
John White
Download Quicktime if you are unable to play video.

Relationships in Nature:

PREY/FOOD
PREDATORS
SHELTER
OTHER

Earthworm

Red Fox

Poison Ivy

American Holly D

Field Cricket

Raccoon

Virginia Creeper

Chigger Pa

Leopard Slug

Striped Skunk

Bracken Fern

Elegant Stinkhorn

Eastern Hognose Snake

Red Clover

Wild Strawberry

Kentucky Bluegrass

Rabid Wolf Spider

Honey Mushroom

Goldenrod Spider

Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth

American Holly

Turkey Tail

Honey Mushroom

Common Black Ground Beetle

Jack O'Lantern

Meadow Mushroom

Pear-shaped Puffball

Eastern Forest Snail

Clouded Sulphur

Oyster Mushroom

Relationship to Humans:

In the past, people have eaten Eastern Box Turtles, but this has sometimes killed people because the turtles had eaten posionous mushrooms. Today, Eastern Box Turtles help humans by controlling pest populations and by sometimes disposing of dead animals.

 
SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

KINGDOM
Animal
PHYLUM
Chordate
CLASS
Reptile
ORDER
Testudines
FAMILY
Emydidae
GENUS
Terrapene
SPECIES
Terrapene carolina

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