Three-toed Box Turtle

STATUSLeast Concern

COMMON NAME (SCIENTIFIC NAME)Terrapene carolina triunguis

DIETSnails, worms, insects, spiders, frogs, snakes, lizards, small mammals, carrion and plants

RANGEUp and down the East Coast from Florida to Southern New York and Massachusetts, and as far west as Eastern Texas

HABITATWoodland and meadows.; semi-aquatic turtle and therefore usually live near a source of water

Three-toed Box Turtle

Status: Not yet evaluated

Description: Unlike the bold colorings of the Eastern Box Turtle, the Three-toed turtle is a subdued olive brown and brown color. It is fairly small and only reaches 4 ½ to 6 inches. They also differ from the Eastern Box Turtle because they have three toes on the hind feet. They can have yellow markings on the skin and some males have red markings on their heads. Male three toed turtles have bright red or orange eyes. Females have dark red or brown eyes.

Habitat/Range: Three toed box turtles live in a habitat such as woodland and meadows. They are a semi-aquatic turtle and therefore usually live near a source of water.   They can be found up and down the East Coast from Florida to Southern New York and Massachusetts, and as far west as Eastern Texas.

Diet in the Wild: Omnivorous. Chiefly carnivorous when young, more herbivorous with age. Eats snails, worms, insects, spiders, frogs, snakes, lizards, small mammals, carrion and plants. Over 90% of diet in the wild is plant material.

Diet in the Zoo: Mixed fruit and vegetables everyday. They also receive crickets or super worms once a week.

Predators: Birds of Prey, Crows, Coyotes, Snapping Turtles, domestic cats, foxes, opossums, raccoons, skunks, snakes.

Life Cycle and Social Structure: Breeding takes place in June or July and the female will begin looking for a next site. Digging a nest site can take up to 8 hours. When the nest site is ready she will lay small clutch, from 3-8, of oval shaped eggs. Eggs incubate for 3 months before hatching.

Theses turtles are shy, quiet and rarely bite. They are solitary and only come together during breeding months. Three toed box turtles have a range of about two to five acres.

Life Span: Box turtles commonly reach 25-30 years of age, and there are well-documented cases of them living to 40 or even 50 years.

Interesting Facts:
May lay viable eggs for up to 4 years after mating; semen is stored in glands in the oviducts. In northern climes, they hibernate in October or November by burrowing into loose soil, mud, or mammal burrows. As soil temperature drops, they burrow deeper. Male box turtles have a concave plastron to facilitate mating. In both sexes the plastron has a hinge between the pectoral and abdominal scutes which divides it into two movable lobes. This allows them to withdraw their head, legs and tail within the shell and close completely to the outside world. Males have red eyes and females have yellow/brown eyes. Many box turtles try to run from predators before hiding in their shell, and because of this it is common to see them in the wild without limbs. The temperature of the box turtle’s next will determine the sex of the offspring. Nests that are 22-27 degrees C tend to be males, and those above 28 degrees tend to be female.

What You Can Do: Don’t litter and make sure to recycle. Research your pet and make sure that you purchase from a responsible, captive breeder.

 Bibliography:
http://www.bio.davidson.edu/
http://animal-world.com/