The Turtle Lover's Utopia

Description: Common Box Turtle

Common Box TurtleWhy is a box turtle called such? A hinge in the middle of the plastron allows them to tightly lock their head, limbs, and tail inside their shells, forming a “box”. In the wild, box turtles are usually seen early in the day, or after rain. They often retire to swampy areas during the hot summer months. They are fond of slugs, earthworms, wild strawberries, and mushrooms poisonous to man — which habit has killed many a human who has eaten their flesh. New York Indians are responsible for eliminating this turtle from much of the area between Ohio and New England. They ate Box Turtle meat, used the shells for ceremonial rattles, and burried turtles with the dead. A few specimens are known to have lived more than 100 years, having served as “living records,” with fathers and then sons carving their names or other family records on the shell.

Common box turtles are found in most areas of the United States east of central Oklahoma and south of central New York. With a number of subspecies, such as the Eastern, Gulf Coast, Three-toed, and Florida Box Turtles, they offer a great diversity of appearance. Some varieties of box turtle are protected by state laws, and are thus not available in stores. Adult box turtles have been known to grow upto as much as 4-8 1/2″ (10-21.6 cm).

Physical Appearance:
Individual common box turtles vary widely in appearance. Some are very brightly colored, while others are an overall brown color. Adults average from four to eight inches in length. A major physical feature is the plastron (mentioned earlier), hinged at the front, which the turtle can close tightly against the carapace, closing himself up within his shell.

Box turtles are thought to be a highly intelligent reptile. While they are somewhat shy in the wild, they are easily tamed. In captivity they live an average of 50 years, with some known to live 100 + years! During periods of cooler weather when temperatures drop below 60 degrees F, they are likely to hibernate.

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