Eastern Box Turtle Facts | Anatomy, Diet, Habitat, Behavior

The eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) is a subspecies of box turtle and is typically found in the eastern United States. It is the state turtle of North Carolina and Tennessee. They are one of the slowest of turtles and it takes them years to attain maturity age. IUCN has listed it as Vulnerable species. Learn more about this slow moving turtle, read on these Eastern Box Turtle Facts we have collected just for you.

Eastern Box Turtle Facts


  • The eastern box turtle, with a large carapace that appears like a dome, is an intriguing subject for those interested in tortoise anatomy.
  • Adult box turtles average 4.5 to 6 inches in length.
  • The carapace is black or brownish along with several prominent patterns of yellowish orange spots.
  • Box turtle’s carapace reminds us of a leaf that falls from a tulip poplar during winter.
  • Males are recognized by their blue patches on the throat as well as on front legs.
  • If the turtle’s shell is damaged it may generate again.
  • Unlike other animals the eastern box turtle lives up to 100 years in the wild while in captivity the average lifespan is much shorter.
eastern box turtle facts
Eastern Box Turtle ©belleislenaturezoo.org

Range & Habitat of Eastern Box Turtle

  • As the name suggests, the eastern box turtle is native to the eastern United States. Their range extends to the eastern Michigan, southern Maine, southern Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, and eastern Kansas.
  • They are thought to make habitats at an elevation of up to 6,000 feet. Eastern box turtle’s habitats include mixed deciduous forests especially those that have moist floor.
  • They also survive in wooded habitats such as pine flatwoods, maritime oak forests, oak-pine forests, and hardwood swamps. Sometimes their habitats may also be found in caves, agricultural areas, and pastures.
  • Box turtles rarely go up the hillsides while usually they prefer bottomland forests. They find cover under fallen logs.
  • They bathe in ponds, streams, and puddles.

Feeding Ecology & Diet of Eastern Box Turtle

  • Depending on the temperature and location the eastern box turtle typically feeds on animal and green matter.
  • Small animals make up much of turtle’s diet such as snails, caterpillars, flies, grasshoppers, salamanders, worms, slugs, beetles, grubs, and carrion.
  • They also feed on grasses, mushrooms, persimmons, grapes, flowers, mayapple, low bush mulberry, wild strawberry, black cherry, maple-leaf viburnum, bread, fallen fruits, and duck weed.
  • Eastern box turtle also eat poisonous fungi. Young turtles are more carnivores as compared to adults.
  • In captivity, they are fed with cockroaches, earthworms, crickets, small mice, beetles and other invertebrates. The captive turtle also likes to consume dandelion greens, mealworms, hamburger, mushrooms, romaine lettuce, collard greens, clover, and chicory.
eastern box turtle facts
Eastern Box Turtle ©www.freshmarine.com

Reproductive Behavior

  • The reproductive rate of eastern box turtles is very low.
  • They attain maturity at 10 – 20 years age.
  • The breeding season ranges from May to late July.
  • A female lays 2 – 7 eggs.

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