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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Did You Know? Incredible Box Turtle Facts

Box turtles facts are very interesting to learn

There are different species of box turtles in the world and these species, in turn, have several subspecies. The American box turtles are found mainly in the central, southwestern, and eastern United States. Their large family is Emydidea and this is again sub-divided by genus. The American turtle belongs to Terrapene which is again sub-divided into more species and subspecies. There are common box turtles whose subspecies are the Florida box turtle, the eastern box turtle terrapene, the ornate or western box turtle, and the Mexican box turtle.  The most commonly found are the common box turtles. Box turtles usually have whatever food is available to them such as earthworms, insects, fallen fruits, caterpillars, flowers, grass, and leafy plants.

While it is illegal to have some of them as pets, some species of box turtles can be kept as pets. They are very high maintenance pets and they have to be provided with the proper environment to grow. They have to be fed every day with vegetables, proteins, and fruits and their meal has to be changed frequently as they are very picky eaters. They are quite social with humans but can bite with their beak if they feel threatened or frightened.

Box turtles spend their entire life in a small space of just 250 yds or 229 m. Even if they roam about, they move for about 50 yd or 46 m in a day. Thus they should not be taken away from their home as they would try to get back to their tiny safe place and moving into unfamiliar territory and eventually die trying.

If you enjoyed reading this article you will also like our articles on the Florida softshell turtle and the hawksbill sea turtle.

Box Turtle Interesting Facts

What type of animal are box turtles?

The box turtle is a species of turtles.

What class of animal do box turtles belong to?

Box turtles belong to the class Reptilia.

How many box turtles are there in the world?

According to recent reports, there has been a huge drop in the number of box turtles in the world from almost 10,000 to less than 2,500, which has changed their status to Vulnerable.

Where do box turtles live?

The box turtle is found primarily in woodlands, floodplains, and grasslands of the North American and Asian regions.

What is a box turtle's habitat?

Box turtles are mostly terrestrial and can live in a range of ecosystems. Box turtle habitats include open woodlands, floodplains, forests with dense, well-drained soil, thickets, grasslands, semi-arid regions, and regions near streams and ponds.

Who do box turtles live with?

Although box turtles are solitary beings they can be sometimes found together in groups of two or three. It is unknown if they would get along with tortoises and turtles of other species.

How long do turtles live?

Box turtles have a life span of about 40 to 50 years but can also live up to an age of 100 years in captivity.

How do they reproduce?

In most instances, mating takes place in the spring. But it can also happen in other seasons if a male and female cross paths. When box turtles achieve sexual maturity, varies according to sources. Some say it occurs when they are four or five years old, and others say it can happen when they are somewhere between four and 20 years old. In any case, the turtles find each other by smell and sight when the time comes. Males can engage in combat over females by butting, shoving, biting, and sometimes by flipping another male onto his back.

The cloaca harbors their reproductive organs. The male starts mating by circling, shoving, and biting the female's outside. The turtles may not find a mate every year, but it does not pose a problem as females can store sperm for almost four years. The female will lay her eggs in a hole she digs up in loamy or sandy soils. There is a clutch of up to seven eggs at a time, which after covering the females do not tend to nor come back to.

What is their conservation status?

Box turtles are widespread across their range but their numbers are decreasing. Individuals are isolated from seeking mates and food due to habitat loss and fragmentation. This causes local populations to decrease. Their sluggish reproductive rate also makes it hard to recover. Many people illegally capture box turtles to keep them in captivity and breed them for pets. They are in high demand and this also causes the box turtle population to go down.

Box Turtles Fun Facts

What do turtles look like?

The shells of box turtles are very hard.

It is very difficult to differentiate between male and female ones, especially when they are babies. Their size cannot be used to determine their gender as the females may or may not be bigger than the males. This is because their sex organs are located within their shells. Some of the differences can be seen in the shell, foreleg, face, etc. While the face, shell, and foreleg of the males are brighter than that of the females, the bottom part of the males is more concave. The female's irises tend to be yellow or brown while the males are orange or red. Males have thicker, longer tails and their vent (opening in the tail) is away from the back edge of their shell. The females have skinnier, shorter tails, and their vent is nearer to their shell.

Both the males and females have eyes on the side of their head, the positioning of which allows them to see the ground clearly. Their color vision and eyesight are incredibly good be it day or night and they have a good low-frequency hearing.

The turtle's most fascinating aspect is its shell which can fit its tail, head, and legs into a tight shape thus earning the name 'box'. Their shell is a part of their skeleton and works as a protective shield and armor against extreme dryness, heat, fire, and predators. The shells consist of three parts, the carapace, the plastron, and the bridge. The carapace is the upper shell and gives the high domed shape and consists of 50 bones including the vertebrae, ribs, and cartilage. Though it is very hard, it can feel through it because the nerve endings are present there. The plastron is the bottom part which consists of the clavicles and the bones separating the portions of the ribs and the clavicle. The bridge connects the carapace and the plastron.

How cute are they?

Box turtle is considered to be very cute. Many people like keeping them as pets. They make excellent pets as they tend to be social with their humans. They are also extremely intelligent and are fairly easy to maintain.

How do they communicate?

Box turtles can vocalize, but they don't do it so often. They often vocalize to find mates or to denote that they are ready to mate. The babies have been recorded making vocalizations to attract attention. Turtles that are disturbed or ill can make noises. A hissing sound is often made by turtles, but it is caused by the way they breathe.

How big are box turtles?

Box turtles have an average length of 4 - 8 inches ( 10.16 - 20.32 cm ). But this tends to vary according to their growth rate, shell size, hibernation schedule, diet, and temperature. While the eastern box turtle and the three-toed box turtle has a length of 4.5 - 6 inches ( 10.16 - 15.24 cm ), the Gulf Coast box turtle can grow up to seven inches (17.78cm ) and the Ornate turtle is smaller with a length of 4 - 5 inches ( 10.16 - 12.7 cm ).

How fast can box turtles swim?

Box turtles have an average speed while swimming of about 5.8 mph. Even though they can swim, they are not very good at it because they do not have webbed feet.

How much do box turtles weigh?

The female tends to be larger than a male box turtle but they have a maximum weight of 2 lb or 0.907 kg.

What are their male and female names of the species?

As there are no specific names, the male counterpart is known as a male box turtle while the female is known as a female box turtle.

What would you call a baby box turtle?

There are no specific names for a baby box turtle.

What do they eat?

Box turtles are opportunistic omnivores. A box turtle's diet depends on whatever food they find in front of them. Snails, earthworms, insects, fallen fruits, caterpillars, flowers, grass, and leafy plants are among their favorite food. They eat carrion on occasion. Cactus is a part of the diet of the desert box turtle, Terrapene ornata luteola.

Are they friendly?

While they are solitary creatures, they are sometimes found in groups of two or three. They might or might not bode well with other species of turtles. But they are quite social with humans. People who have them as their pets report they are friendly enough and also intelligent enough to recognize their owners and accept affection from them.

Would they make a good pet?

A box turtle is a high maintenance pet and in most states of the United States, it is illegal to keep them as a pet. This is because the number of these turtles is less and it is essential to protect them in the wild. However, they make excellent pets due to their friendly nature and intelligence which allows them to recognize and bond with their owners.

Did you know...

There are almost 300 turtle species in the world belonging to the order Testudines. Apart from Antarctica, they are found on all the continents while the United States alone has 57 species of turtle native to their country, which is higher than any other country.

What is a group of box turtles called?

The name for a group of turtles is a nest, dole, turn, or bale.

How long can box turtles hold their breath?

According to the American Animal Hospital Associate, or AAHA, box turtles can hold their breath for about 15 to 30 minutes. After that, they might face a risk of drowning.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles including the Olive Ridley sea turtle and the green sea turtle.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our box turtle coloring pages.

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