Eastern Box Turtle

The Eastern Box Turtle has a high-domed shell that makes it easy to recognize. Its name comes from the lower part of the shell, which is hinged like a box allowing the turtle to crawl inside and close itself up as protection from enemies. The upper and lower shells are dark brown to black in color with streaks and spots of yellow all over. A box turtle has a yellow-orange head and legs. They are usually 5 or 6 inches long.

Box turtles are live on land; they are found in a wide variety of moist, warm wooded regions in the eastern USA. In hot weather they will burrow in the mud, swamps, and leaves of the forest, coming out only to look for food after heavy rains. Box turtles eat both plants and animals, including snails, slugs, mushrooms, berries, earthworms, and most insects. Like most other reptiles during the winter they will burrow in mud and come out in the early spring.

Most box turtles are ready to mate at 4 years of age. Female box turtles lay eggs in sandy soil, creating a hole by digging with their hind feet in the night for increased safety. The female will lay between 3 to 6 eggs, cover them with soil, and leave them to hatch on their own about 3 months later. The young turtles are very much in danger from other animals as a food source so they often stay hidden in the leaves and mud. But if the turtles can survive, they may live as long as 60 years!

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