Eastern Box Turtle
The Eastern box turtle is found in woodlands, pastures, and marshy meadows near ponds and streams in the eastern United States. They are called box turtles because they have a unique hinged lower shell that they can close like a box to protect them from predators.
Range & Habitat
● In the Wild: Open woodlands, pastures and marshy meadows near ponds and streams in the eastern U.S. along the East Coast from southern Maine to Florida and west to Michigan, Illinois, eastern Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.
● Exhibit Location: Zoo to You Collection
Conservation Status: Near Threatened
This species is becoming threatened due to collection for the pet trade, habitat destruction and fragmentation, and pollution.
In the Wild: snails, insects, berries, fungi, slugs, worms, roots, flowers, fish, frogs, salamanders, snakes, birds, eggs, carrion
At the Zoo: insects, worms, fruit, salad greens
Fun Facts about the Eastern Box Turtle
● There are 6 subspecies of box turtles (4 in the United States, 2 in Mexico).
● When frightened, box turtles retract their head, tail and limbs into their shell and clamp it shut, then wait until the perceived threat is gone. Very few species can prey effectively on adults due to this defensive technique.
● Box turtles can be dangerous to eat. At times they eat poisonous mushrooms and the toxins may linger in their flesh.
- Box turtle shells have great regenerative powers and can grow back when damaged
● Friends of the National Zoo, Reptiles & amphibians: eastern box turtle. Retrieved from Smithsonian National Zoological Park Web site: https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/eastern-box-turtle
● Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Fish and Wildlife, The Eastern Box Turle. https://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/3378.htm