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.
Photos © Jim Harding
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.
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