Eastern Box Turtle. Terrapene carolina

Eastern Box Turtle

Scientific Name: Terrapene carolina

Total Length: 4.5 – 6 inches

Range: Northeast Massachussetts to Georgia, west to Michigan, Illinois, and Tennessee.

Habitat: They may be found in habitats such as open woodlands, damp meadows, and stream edges. During hot, dry weather they burrow beneath logs or rotting vegetation, but during summer showers they will usually come out of hiding, often in groups.

Sex Determination: Males usually have bright red eyes while females have yellow or brown ones. The bottom of males’ shells (plastron) go in while the females are flat.

[snip left][/snip]Reproduction: Once a male finds a female he will stop in front of her and raise himself up on all four legs so that his shell isn’t touching the ground. The female will stop and watch him. She will then close her shell almost completely, allowing just a small slit for viewing. Then the male will begin to circle around her, moving his head in and out, and sometimes biting at her. He will do this for 15 minutes to a couple of hours. When he is ready, he will climb onto the top of her shell (carapace) from the back and lean forward so his claws are way out in front of him. He then bites at the female’s head, which tells her to open up the rear portion of her shell. If she is receptive, the male will then place his two hind claws between her shell and carapace and in return, the female will close the back of her shell slightly, trapping the male’s claws inside. He then presses his tail up against hers until their vents meet. Then pushes himself into a vertical position.

Egg-Laying: The female looks around for a spot to lay her eggs by digging a bunch of test holes. When she makes one that she likes, she will begin to lay her eggs.

Egg Care: Mark the tops of the eggs with a soft pencil and put them in an incubator (which should be standing ready). Be careful not to change the positon of the eggs while removing them. The embryo can get smothered by the yolk if the position of the eggs are later changed.

Incubation under natural conditions takes 60 – 99 days. Eggs in an incubator will hatch in about eight weeks.

Care In Captivity:

  • Feeding: The diet should have variety. All of the food should be sprinkled with vitamin and calcium supplements. We are only going to name some of the foods that our turtles eat. All turtles have different tastes. Experiment with different foods and see what your turtles like. Make sure that you give them enough hard foods to prevent their beak from growing too long.
  • Meat: Earthworms, crickets, potatoe bugs (pillbugs, wood lice), snails, locusts, spiders, and other invertebrates.
  • Fruits and Vegetables: Peaches, plums, bananas, apples, apple sauce, escarole lettuce, romaine lettuce, mushrooms, cucumbers, carrots, celery, and others fruits and vegetables.
  • Other: Peanut butter, hard-boiled eggs (keep the shell on if you like), raw hamburger meat, dog food, raw fish, and commercial foods (all should be fed sparingly).

Other Information: They are most active in the morning and evening.

Box Turtles sometimes soak themselves for hours in mud or water.

They don’t get poisoned by eating mushrooms. Instead, they store it in their body to protect them if they are eaten.

To keep your turtle’s shell clean and shiny, apply a thin layer of vasoline on it.

Feeding them at the same time of day each time will get them to come out at that time and ready to eat.

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