Eastern Box Turtle
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Online Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Connecticut

Eastern Box Turtle - Terrapene carolina carolina

Description

A terrestrial turtle with a highly domed carapace. Carapace color can range from brown to orange to yellow. The skin is variable in color on the head, neck and legs, and can be light gray to bright yellow. Generally, males have red eyes and females have brown or black eyes (in this photograph the male is on the right). Adult length is 5 to 7 inches (12.5 to 17.5 cm).

 

Reproduction

Lays small clutches of 3 to 9 eggs in June (Klemens 1993). Eggs hatch in the autumn (September and October).


Box turtles lay their eggs in shallow nests dug in loose soil. After laying the female will cover the eggs with soil and smooth out the mound with her plastron (belly shell).


Not all nests survive. This nest (on left) was dug up by raccoons, who ate the eggs.



Juvenile Eastern Box Turtle (right). Note the relatively flat carapace and primarily dark coloration.

Habitat

Found in old fields and early successional woodlands. In Connecticut it can be found in roadside areas and power line cuts. Elsewhere in its range it can be found in clear-cut timber areas and old strip mines. Often seen crossing a road that passes through appropriate habitat. Although a terrestrial species, it still depends on wetlands for drinking water and to escape heat and drought (Klemens 2000).

 

Food

Omnivorous. Feeds on leaves, flowers, berries, insects, worms, slugs, snails and other plants and animals.

 

Range

Found throughout the eastern United States, in Connecticut it is known mainly from sites in the central valley, especially along rivers and flood plains.

 

Status

Although international trade is regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the species is not federally endangered. However, in Connecticut it is considered a special concern species and possession is regulated. Box turtles cannot be taken from the wild in Connecticut.

 

References

Conant, R. and J.T. Collins. 1991. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern/Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 450 pp.

Klemens, M.W. 1993a. Amphibians and Reptiles of Connecticut and Adjacent Regions. Hartford, CT: State Geological and Natural History Survey of Connecticut Bulletin 112. 318 pp.
——1993b. Amphibians and Reptiles in Connecticut. Hartford, CT: State Geological and Natural History Survey of Connecticut Bulletin 32. 96 pp.

 

Credits

Text by James Sirch and Gregory J. Watkins-Colwell.
Photographs © Copeland MacClintock. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Animals featured in photographs on this page are from Connecticut.