Species Spotlight: Eastern Box Turtle

© John Mizel
© Maxine Kamin

Looks like: This medium-sized turtle has blunt feet and a high, domed, dark brown or black shell with yellow, orange, and olive markings. Males often have read eyes. The plastron (bottom of the shell) is hinged, allowing the box turtle to completely close it shell

Lives in: Open woodlands, meadows, and fields, with a preference for sandy, well-drained soils near ponds or streams. These turtles are terrestrial, but are often found soaking in puddles or streams.

Niche: Box turtles are omnivorous and will forage for slugs, earthworms, wild berries, and mushrooms.

Threats: Box turtles are killed while crossing roads and are over-collected for the pet trade.

Frequency: Uncommon

© Anne Coleman

Reproduction: Nesting occurs in June, when females lay several white eggs in sunny, sandy or loamy soil. Eggs hatch in September and October and hatchlings may overwinter in the nest.

Fun facts: Eastern Box Turtles spend a long time hibernating in the soil and are only active from May through October. They can live about 40 years, and some for almost a century.