Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina)

Identification: The high, domed carapace is dark with a radiating pattern of yellow or orange. Plastron with flexible hinge, allowing complete shell closure. Head and legs with yellow markings. Male usually has red eyes and concave plastron.

Eastern Box Turtle
Photos © Jim Harding
Eastern Box Turtle underside

Adult carapace length: 4.5 to 7.8 inches (11.4 to 19.8 cm).

Habitat: Open woodlands and adjacent meadows, thickets, and gardens, often near shallow ponds, swamps, or streams. Michigan's only truly terrestrial turtle.

Habits: Many Box turtles stay in a small home range (under five acres) most of their lives; they routinely live for several decades, occasionally a century or more. Food includes plants, berries, fungi, insects, worms, slugs, snails, carrion.

Reproduction: Mating can occur spring through fall; female may remain fertile for four years after mating. Three to 8 oval, soft shelled eggs are laid in the ground in June; they hatch in 75 to 90 days.

Range and Status: Uncommon to rare in southern and western Lower Peninsula. Declining due to habitat loss, collecting for pets, and road mortality. Protected by Michigan law as a special concern species.

Related Documents
Eastern Box Turtle Occurrence Map PDF icon