Critter Corner - Box
<--- Ornate Box Turtle
Three Toed Box Turtle
(Terrapene carolina triunguis)
DID YOU KNOW:
Turtles represent the oldest
living group of reptiles on earth. Fossils dating from the
time of the dinosaurs look very similar to the turtles living
now. Two kinds of box turtles are found in our area ---
the ornate box turtle and the three-toed box turtle. The
ornate is brown with yellow lines radiating from the center
scute (the large scale on the upper shell) and the three-toed is
olive-brown with faint yellowish lines radiating from the center
of each scute on the upper shell.
The box turtle dines
primarily on grasshoppers,
and caterpillars, but mulberries, wild strawberries and other
plant materials are an occasional treat. Wilma, the
resident box turtle at Lakeside Nature Center, is fond of
strawberries and kiwi fruit.
The female turtle finds an
exposed area with loose soil or sand and digs a shallow hole for
her two to eight eggs. She covers the eggs with dirt and
lets them incubate on their own. The eggs hatch in two to
three months. When the young are born, they already know
what to eat and how to care for themselves.
While Three-toed box turtles
prefer oak-hickory forests and areas
brushy fields, the ornate box turtles prefer grasslands, native
prairies and glades. Though turtles are slow-moving, their
home range may be 5 acres! They hibernate over
winter, sometimes in large groups, in burrows nearly two feet
When a box turtle is startled
or threatened, it will make a hissing sound, pull in its head
and feet, and tightly close its shell until it feels safe.
Box turtles are well-adapted for their dry-land life.
The male ornate box
turtle has red eyes and the female has yellowish brown eyes.
Box turtles have a hinge
in the underside of their shell.
Box turtles may live 30
years or more, and some other turtle species may lie to be
eighty. The box turtle living at Lakeside Nature
Center is nearly seventy years old.
The ornate box turtle was
designated the official state reptile of Kansas by the state
legislature in 1986.
To learn more about
(Photo credits: Portrait of
ornate box turtle, Missouri Department of Conservation; Portrait
of three-toed box turtle, Missouri Department of Conservation;
Ornate box turtle on ground, EPA; Underside of box turtle,
Michigan Department of Natural Resources)