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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

Did You Know? 17 Incredible Ornate Box Turtle Facts

Ornate box turtle facts are absolutely fun and informative to read about.

The Terrapene ornata species of turtles are mainly found in Wisconsin, Kansas, Texas, and other regions in the United States. These turtles have medium-sized dark bodies. Their shell, mainly the plastron, has a hinge that shuts the shell tightly once the turtle slides its legs, head, and tail inside, protecting them from any predators nearby.

Even though they might bite or sting a human finger on sensing danger from the human, these turtles make a good pet. It is advised to build their space with a common substrate sheet to help create a natural environment for turtles at home. The number of these turtles is decreasing due to the loss of natural habitat caused by human developments, road construction, as well as the vigorous pet trade that includes the ornate box turtles. To know more about these turtles, read these facts below.

For more information about other similar species, check out these spiny softshell turtle facts and softshell turtle facts.

Ornate Box Turtle Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an ornate box turtle?

The Terrapene ornata is one of the desert box turtle species, that belongs to the Emydidae family of animals.

What class of animal does an ornate box turtle belong to?

These box turtles are reptiles and belong to the Reptilia class of animals.

How many ornate box turtles are there in the world?

There is no official record regarding their exact population in the world. However, due to prairie habitat loss and other natural reasons, these box turtles are marked as threatened.

Where does an ornate box turtle live?

Ornate box turtles are one of the North American turtle species and are mainly found in the regions of Wisconsin, Mexico, South Dakota, Mexico, Oklahoma, Iowa, Arizona, Texas, as well as near the Mississippi River. Based on their placements, these turtles are also known as eastern ornate box turtle and western ornate box turtle.

What is an ornate box turtle's habitat?

The ornate box turtle habitat is mainly focused on the desert, rocky mountains, and open grasslands. This ornate box turtle habitat is also seen around the glades, wetlands, forests, freshwater ponds, lakes, as well as near prairies and savanna. These terrestrial ornate box turtles require a body temperature between 21-25 C. Hence, to avoid extreme temperatures they go through a span of winter hibernation during April. They dig the soil or leaf litter and create a burrow and stay in it to save themselves from the extreme cold temperatures.

Who do ornate box turtles live with?

Ornate box turtles are solitary in nature and usually end up spending most of their time staying inside their burrows alone. They interact with other turtles mainly during the breeding period.

How long does an ornate box turtle live?

The ornate box turtle lifespan can range anywhere between 30-37 years, unless they are killed by any predators in the wild. The oldest living ornate turtle recorded was of 40 years of age.

How do they reproduce?

For ornate box turtles, the male ornate box turtle is the one to attract the female. The male does this by following the adult females around, staring in their direction, or even mounting on their back and fighting with other males during the mating period. This mating season starts in late April and is extended until October. Ornate box turtles are polygamous and mate with more than one individual of the opposite sex during the season. Adult females are known to lay one or two broods per year, each of one to eight eggs.

Once the mating is done, the female ornate box turtle is known to keep the male's sperms within her for a span of 50 days. The female is known to lay her eggs outside water during July. The nest is built on land, either with a little vegetation, or in the soil burrows. The incubation period for these eggs can range anywhere between 60-90 days depending on the different temperatures. The adult pair does not take any responsibility for the baby ornate box turtle care. This also leads to the early death of the young ones when they wander in the wild.

What is their conservation status?

The ornate box turtle range has been threatened for a long time mainly due to habitat loss in the regions of Iowa, Wisconsin, Mexico, and the other regions in the United States. This is why they are marked under the Near Threatened list passed on by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Ornate Box Turtle Fun Facts

What do ornate box turtles look like?

Facts about the ornate box turtle appearance states that they have yellow lines on their shells.

This species has a dark brown or black-colored head, tail, and legs. Males usually have bright red eyes and a green-colored head, while the females have both their head and eyes of a dark brown or black color. These ornate box turtles have thick yellow lines on every shell segment of their carapace. The shell length and the rings on the shell or their carapace define their age. They have a similar dark-colored plastron with yellow markings. The adult ones usually have yellow spots on their head and their legs also have claws that help them to grab their prey or defend themselves from predators whenever necessary.

How cute are they?

These box turtles belonging to the land as well as the water, are usually considered cute by humans.

How do they communicate?

These turtles are known to be tactile and visual in nature. They also use their hearing aid to sense the  presence of a predator or prey near them. The males use tactile communication tricks like touching and bumping the female turtle shell, following the females as well as physical aggression with other males to win a female over during the breeding period.

How big is an ornate box turtle?

The ornate box turtle size can range anywhere between 3.7-6 in (9.3-15 cm). They are twice the size of a speckled dwarf tortoise.

How fast can an ornate box turtle move?

Box turtles have an average speed of 0.17 mph (0.27 kph).

How much does an ornate box turtle weigh?

The ornate box turtles are smaller and can weigh anywhere between 0.4-1.1 lb (0.1-0.5 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Ornate box turtles do not have different names based on their sex.

What would you call a baby ornate box turtle?

The baby of an ornate box turtle is called a hatchling.

What do they eat?

These box turtles have an omnivorous ornate box turtle diet. The ornate box turtle food includes a lot of insects, fish, mollusks, eggs, worms, as well as carrion. They might also eat fruits, seeds, flowers, grains, and leaves.

Are they dangerous?

Even though these box turtles are not fatally venomous, they are considered a little dangerous.

Would they make a good pet?

Even though these turtles have complex habitat needs, with the right substrate, diet, temperature, and other necessary elements these box turtles can make a wonderful pet.

Did you know...

These box turtles have a similar physical appearance with the subspecies named T O Luteola. Although, the subspecies has more yellow lines on the shell than the ornates.  

Which U.S. state selected the ornate box turtle as its official state reptile?

Kansas has selected the ornate box turtle as its official state reptile.

Can you have a spotted turtle as a pet?

Yes. One should have a dry-basking space in the water aquarium as they are semi-aquatic. Feed them fish, snails, plants, and insects for full nutrition.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these hawksbill sea turtle facts, and Chinese softshell turtle facts.

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

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