Box Turtle

Species Details

Box turtles are North American turtles of the genus Terrapene.

In 1995, Tennessee State Legislature recognized the Eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolinia) as the state reptile.

Eastern box turtles have a large, dark grey or brownish shell often having yellow-to-dark-orange markings lining their domed shell. Individual turtles have unique markings, making it possible to identify an individual turtle by appearance.

Box turtles have hinges on the bottom of their shell which allow them to completely close in their shell. These hinges allow the box turtle to close tightly like a box (which is how box turtles got their name) making it almost impossible for predators to get at the soft parts of the turtle. Box turtles can live from 30 to 80 years in the wild, however they commonly live over 100 years. Their age can be determined by counting the rings on their shells.

Box turtles in Tennessee prefer open woodlands, which provide a mix of cover, berries, and fruit.

In 2005, Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency listed it as species of greatest conservation need.

Information cited from Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency 2020 article by Brian Flock.