55 Facts About Box Turtles


The cool thing about Box Turtles is that they never look busy. They calmly browse the forest for food or sun themselves on a log, appearing to live a life of leisure, plus they get to live up to 100 years old! Behind their chilled demeanour, however, Box Turtles are ecological movers and shakers. Keep on reading to learn 55 facts about Box Turtles. 

Fact 1: Box Turtles are North American Turtles and are from the genus ‘Terrapene’. 

Fact 2: Although Box Turtles look really similar to tortoises and they have habits that resemble one and other, they are actually members of the American Pond Turtle family.

Fact 3: Box Turtles have a high, rounded upper shell called a ‘carapace’.

Fact 4: They also have a flattened bottom shell (plastron) with a transverse hinge, and ligamentous connections between plastron and carapace (instead of the bony bridge typically found in most turtles). 

Fact 5: They can hide themselves away inside their shell. 

Fact 6: This sort of hiding technique is likely to be where their name ‘Box Turtle’ came from. 

Fact 7: The presence of a hinge and ligamentous bridges allows them to hide inside their shell.

Fact 8: They’re like walking jawbreakers. 

Fact 9: Their high, domed shell, makes them too large for many predators to consume whole.

Fact 10: When predators try to break open the shell they are likely to hurt themselves in the process because it’s so hard.

Fact 11: The Eastern Box Turtle lays a maximum of eight eggs in a clutch.

Fact 12: Clutches of three or four eggs are more typical when a Box Turtle gives birth though.

Fact 13: They can live up to 100 years of age!

Fact 14: The average lifespan of an adult Box Turtle is 50 years, but a significant portion of Box Turtles do live to be at least 100 years of age. 

Fact 15: It is difficult to determine the age of a Box Turtle who lives in the wild because there is no easy way to check how old they are.

Fact 16: One way of checking their age is to count the amount of growth rings that are visible on the scutes (like a bony external cover). But, like with any animal their growth is directly affected by the amount of food, types of food, water, and illnesses they suffer, meaning you cannot accurately estimate a Box Turtles age without knowing their life history.

Fact 17: While their hard shell protects them from known attacks, surprise attacks are still a large threat to them. 

Fact 18: While their shell is not easily fractured, the Box Turtle is still vulnerable to surprise attacks and persistent gnawing, or pecking from other animals. 

Fact 19: Common predators are mammals like minks, skunks, racoons, dogs, and rodents, but also birds and snakes are known to kill Box Turtles. 

Fact 20: They’re native to the United States and Mexico. 

Fact 21: There are 6 subspecies of Box Turtle, four native to the United States and two native to Mexico.  

Fact 22: There are currently four recognized species of Box Turtles.

  • These are the Common Box turtle, Coahuilan Box Turtle, Spotted Box Turtle, and the Ornate Box Turtle.  

Fact 23: The common Box Turtle is the most prominent and well-known type of Box Turtle.

Fact 24: The Common Box Turtle (Terrapene Carolina) is a species of Box Turtle with six existing subspecies. It is found throughout the Eastern United States and Mexico. 

Fact 25: The Common Box Turtle are currently listed on the IUCN’s list of vulnerable animals as “vulnerable”. 

Fact 26: Eastern Box Turtle got its common name due to it being located in the eastern United States. 

Fact 27: The Eastern Box Turtle is one of the more well-known subspecies.

Fact 28: The Eastern Box Turtles status on the IUCN’s list of vulnerable animals is also “vulnerable”.

Fact 29: The Florida Box Turtle got its name due to being found almost exclusively in the state of Florida.

Fact 30: The Florida Box Turtle can occasionally be found in southern Georgia. 

Fact 31: The Florida Box Turtle’s status on the IUCN’s list of vulnerable animals is “least concern”.

Fact 32: The Three-toed Box Turtle got its name because of its iconic three toes on its hind legs. 

Fact 33: The Three-toed Box Turtle is regarded as one of the better subspecies to keep as pets.

Fact 34: Box Turtles are popular pets, both within their native countries and abroad. 

Fact 35: Box Turtles need exposure to the real sun, or artificial light to stay healthy. 

Fact 36: It is also important to provide them with a suitable diet to ensure that they receive proper nutrition. 

Fact 37: In the wild, Box Turtles are omnivores that will eat a lot of different things.

Fact 38: Their main food source is invertebrates, such as insects and worms.

Fact 39: They also eat a lot of vegetables, including leaves, fruits and berries. 

Fact 40: Box Turtles have a deep connection to the location they were born in.

Fact 41: Most turtles do not travel far from the place of their birth. 

Fact 42: One of the leading causes in the decline of Box Turtles is humans taking them from their homes and then re-releasing them elsewhere in the wild. Box Turtles who experience this will often wander aimlessly, trying to find their original home until they die.

Fact 43: They are more active during the day when it’s warm. 

Fact 44: Box Turtles prefer the temperature to be between 84 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Fact 45: If it gets too hot in the summer, Box Turtles will relax during the sunny hours and be active in the early mornings or after it has rained. 

Fact 46: To stay cool in the summer, they hide under decaying, or dying, logs and leaves.

Fact 47: It isn’t uncommon to see Box Turtles crawling into burrows and/or mud to cool off when it gets too warm outside.

Fact 48: Females of both species can produce fertile eggs for up to four years after a single mating. 

Fact 49: Western Box Turtles can store clutches of eggs inside their bodies for extended periods of time until nesting conditions are ideal.

Fact 50: You can tell whether it’s a male or a female turtle from the length of their tails.

Fact 51: Female turtles have short and skinny tails, while males sport long, thick tails, with their vent (cloaca) positioned closer to the end of the tail.

Fact 52: Eastern Box Turtles mate from around April to about October time.

Fact 53: They hibernate from around October or November to April. 

Fact 54: They lay their eggs from May through July. 

Fact 55: Western Box Turtles mate in the spring and fall and lay their eggs in the spring. 

References:

Link 1, Link 2, Link 3

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