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Eastern Box Turtle Terrapene carolina


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Eastern Box Turtle, Eastern subspecies
credit: Stephen Friedt

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Family: Emydidae, Pond and Box Turtles view all from this family

Description Hinge on plastron allows for shell to close tightly. Kelled & domed carapace. Orange, brown, tan olive with varying patterns. Males have red eyes, females normally brown.

Dimensions 10-21.6cm. (4-8 1/2")

Subspecies Eastern (T. c. carolina), Bright carapace. Hind feet have 4 toes. Maine to Georgia, west to Michigan, Illinois, and Tennessee.
Gulf Coast (T. c. major), Large. Hind feet have 4 toes. Florida coastal plain panhandle to Louisiana.
Three-toed (T. c. triunguis), Olive/tan carapace. Spotted head & front legs. Hind feet have 3 toes; Missouri, Alabama and Texas.
Florida (T. c. baud), Hind feet have 3 toes. Patterned carapace, 2 stripes on sides. Flordia peninsular to Florida Keys.

Breeding May-July. 3-8 eggs in a clutch. Eggs are elliptical, with thin shells. Flash shaped cavity dig, 3-4" deep. Females sometimes store sperm for several years after mating. Sexually mature at 5-7 years.

Habitat Meadows, pastures and moist forests.

Range Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas to Florida Keys.

Discussion Terrestrial. Only "land" turtle in North Carolina. In summer reside in swamps and marshes. Slugs, worms, strawberries and poisonous mushrooms comprise main diet. Men who have eaten their flesh have died due to the mushrooms being poisonous to humans. Shells formerly used for ceremonial rattles by New York Indians, where their populations were almost wiped out. Some documented to have lived over 100 years. Fathers & sons would carve their names into the shells creating a 'living record'. Will often spends its life in one area, normally no bigger than a football field.