Eastern Box Turtle

Published on February 6, 2013 by Amy

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Eastern Box Turtle
Eastern Box Turtle

Box turtles of the genus Terrapene only occur in North America. The name Terrapene is appropriately derived from a native American (Algonquian) word for turtle. In the United States, two separate species groups are recognized: the common box turtle group (carolina) and the ornate group (ornata).

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Box turtles are relatively small, land-dwelling reptiles with a unique, hinged shell design enabling them to completely withdraw their head and limbs and totally close their shell (like a closed box). This design affords total protection to their soft tissues when threatened by predators.

The range of the box turtle varies from the open woodlands of the Eastern Box Turtle, the swampy environment of the Florida species (Terrapene carolina bauri), the marshy habitat of the Gulf Coast Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina major), to the harsh desert environment of the Desert Box Turtle (Terrapene ornata luteola). Box turtles are terrestrial but occasionally enter water for soaking and/or drinking. They are generally regarded as poor swimmers.
Box turtles appear to be long-lived. One Three-Toed Box Turtle apparently lived 130 years at an Eastern zoo. Another was found in 1931 with a nearly worn-away date of 1809 carved into its shell!

Box turtles are omnivorous. They enjoy both live, whole animal food (earthworms, slugs, snails and other invertebrates), as well as fruits and berries.

Mating season occurs after the turtles emerge from hibernation. Courtship may be prolonged, involving the male’s biting of the shell and limbs of the female. Egg-laying usually occurs in June and July, in the late afternoon or early evening. Between 2 and 7 (usually 4 or 5) eggs are laid, measuring 3/4 of an inch by 1 1/4 inch.

Source: turtletrack

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