Eastern Box Turtle

Terrapene carolina carolina

House Name: Xaviera

Description: Eastern box turtles have a keeled, elongated, high-domed carapace (upper shell)  that may reach lengths of up to 8 inches. The carapace is brown with variable patterns or yellow or orange. Most males have red eyes while most females have yellow or brown eyes.

Range: Southern Maine south through Georgia and west to Michigan, Illinois, and Mississippi

Habitat: Eastern box turtles are found mostly in open woodlands, but can also be found in pastures and marshy meadows.

Diet:
Wild: Slugs, snails, worms, crustaceans, insects, frogs, salamanders, lizards, snakes, carrion, and plant matter
Zoo: Chopped vegetable/fruit diet, earthworms, crickets, minnows, and an occassional rodent

Reproduction: Eastern box turtles breed from spring through autumn. Nesting takes place from May to July  with females laying multiple clutches of  3-8 eggs in sandy or loamy soil.These eggs hatch in about 75-90days. Female box turtles have been known to lay fertile eggs up to four years after breeding.

Fun Fact: The box turtle derives its name from its ability to close its shell up tightly like a box. This is due to hinged plates on its plastron (lower shell) that allow the turtle to close its limbs and head inside its shell. This gives it excellent protection from predators.


References: [1] Ernst, Carl H. and Roger W. Barbour. 1989. Turtles of the World.Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C. [2] Conant, Roger and Joseph T. Collins. 1998. A field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of the Eastern and Central North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York. [3] Collins, Joseph T. and Travis Taggart. 2002. Standard Common and Current Scientific Names for North American Amphibians, Turtles, Reptiles, and Crocodilians (Fifth Edition 2002).