Page 126 - A Field Guide to Fairfax County's Plants and Wildlife
P. 126
tern Box Turtle

(Terrapene carolina)


Its carapace is domed and
dark brown or olive with
bright orange or yellow
patterns. The carapace grows
to 16 centimeters. Its plastron
and skin are also dark with
yellow to orange markings. Males often have red eyes while females often
have yellowish-brown eyes. It has a down-turned beak. The turtle matures in
10 to 20 years. Mating season lasts April through October. The female lays
two to seven eggs in a nest she digs with her hind legs and carefully covers
them. They normally hatch in about three months. Eastern Box Turtles can live
more than 100 years.

Eastern Box Turtles play an Distribution and Habitat
important role in seed dispersal
since they eat berries of different The Eastern Box Turtle lives in all
kinds of plants. five physiographic provinces. It
is native only to North America.
It prefers woodlands with open
canopies, thickets, pastures and
marshy meadows. It is often found
near streams and ponds. The young
are semi-aquatic.

Role in Food Web

It eats a variety of animals,
carrion, plants and fungi including
Blackberries, Mayapples,
Elderberries, Muscadine Grapes,
Wild Strawberries, Black Cherries,
mushrooms, salamanders, earthworms, Field Crickets, Leopard Slugs, Rabid
Wolf Spiders and Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moths. Predators include Red Foxes,
Raccoons, Striped Skunks and Eastern Hog-nosed Snakes. Few species prey
on the adult turtles because they can close their shells.

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