Eastern Box Turtle

Scientific Name: Terrapene carolina carolina
Size: 5-8 inches (12.7-20 cm) in length
Status: Species of special concern

Deciduous woodlands, old fields, pastures, and marshy areas.

The carapace background color is brown to brownish black with a strong pattern of numerous lines, irregular blotches and bars that vary from yellow to bright orange. The plastron has a wide range of colors from immaculate yellow-brown, dark brown, brownish black to black. The pattern of the plastron also varies from: patternless; dark blotches; a dark central blotch that becomes lighter along the margins; a dark central blotch that branches along the seams; or radiating light lines. The head, neck, legs, and tail are dark brown and are usually heavily patterned with yellow to orange streaks, blotches, and bars.

Adult Coloration:
Adult Characteristics:
  • Small terrestrial species.
  • Side View – The carapace is high-domed and slightly keeled.
  • Above View – The carapace is oblong with slight flaring on the posterior margins.
  • The plastron is extremely broad and as long or longer than the carapace.
  • The legs are well-developed and strong.
  • The upper jaw is hooked terminally and has no notch.
Juvenile Characteristics:
  • The carapace is light brown and each carpacial scute has a single yellow spot.
  • The plastron had a large dark central blotch bordered by a yellow margin.

Juvenile Gallery:

May be Confused With:
  • Hulse, C. and McCoy C. J. and Ellen Censky ,1998. Amphibians and Reptiles of Pennsylvania and the Northeast. 233-237pp.
  • Ernst, Carl H. and Lovich, Jeffrey E., and Barbour, Roger W. ,1994. Turtles of the United States and Canada. 250-265pp. Photo Credits:
  • Bob Hamilton
  • Wayne Fidler
  • Billy Brown
  • Tom Diez
  • Sebastian Harris
  • Don Becker (psychoticnature.com)
  • M. Anne Esbenshade
  • Stephen Staedtler

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