Eastern Box Turtle

The Eastern Box Turtle, Terrapene carolina carolina, is a subspecies within a group of hinge-shelled turtles, normally called box turtles. This species is native to an eastern part of the United States. Occasionally, it is referred to as the Common Box Turtle to distinguish it from the other five subspecies of eastern box turtles.

Eastern box turtles have a high, dome-like shell and a hinged frontal plate that allows total shell closure. The shell can be of variable coloration, but is normally found brownish or black and is accompanied by a yellowish or orangish radiating pattern of lines, spots or blotches. Skin coloration, like that of the shell, is variable, but is usually brown with some yellow, orange, or white spots or streaks. The color of the shell and skin of an eastern box turtle differs with age. Colors are generally more vibrant in the young.

Males usually posses red eyes, whereas the female has brown eyes. These turtles feature a sharp, horny beak, stout limbs, and their feet are webbed only at the base. Staying small in size, males grow to up to 7″, and females to about 8″. In the wild, box turtles are known to live over 80 years, but in captivity, usually live only between 30 and 50 years.

The eastern box turtle is found mainly in the eastern United States, as is implied by its name. They are populated as far north as southern Maine and the northwest of the Michigan Lower Peninsula, south to southern Florida and west to eastern Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Eastern box turtles prefer deciduous or mixed forested regions, with a moderately moist forest floor that has good drainage. They can be also found in open grasslands, or pastures.

The eating habits of eastern box turtles vary greatly due to individual taste, temperature, lighting, and their surrounding environment. Unlike warm-blooded animals, their metabolism doesn’t drive their appetite, instead, they can just lessen their activity level, retreat into their shells and halt their food intake until better conditions arise.

There are a variety of foods which are universally accepted by eastern box turtles, which include earthworms, snails, grubs, beetles, caterpillars, grasses, fallen fruit, berries, mushrooms, flowers, and carrion. Many times, they will eat an item of food, especially in captivity, just because it looks and smells edible, such as hamburger or eggs.