Eastern Box Turtle
Terrapene carolina carolina

Other Images of Eastern Box Turtles

The Box Turtle is an icon of the turtle world. This turtle is terrestrial and its principal defense is to withdraw its head, legs and tail completely within its shell. This is possible because the Box Turtle has a domelike topshell (carapace) and a double-hinged lower shell (plastron) which can be tightly held against the topshell.

The pattern and coloration of Eastern Box Turtles are highly variable. In general, the topshell pattern consists of lighter colored dots or lines. The lighter color is usually yellow or orange. The background color of the topshell is usually black, olive, or dark brown. Some specimens may have reds on the topshell and skin.

Their are subtle differences between the sexes. The iris of the female is usually brown or amber, while the iris of the male is often red. The female has a flat lower shell while the male has a depression in the rear part of the lower shell. The male's depression allows it to mount the female more easily during mating. Often the dome of the male is not as rounded as that of the female.

Eastern Box Turtles eat vegetation, fruits, and mushrooms. They may also eat carion.

Box Turtles are most often encountered while crossing roads following summer rains.

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updated: January 23, 2006
Contact: South Carolina Reptiles and Amphibians