Box Turtle Basics: All You Need to Know About Types of Box Turtles

Box turtles are a group of land-dwelling turtles belonging to the genus Terrapene. They are known for their box-like shell that allows them to retract their head, limbs, and tail completely inside for protection. Here are some common types of box turtles:

1. Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina)

The Eastern box turtle is one of the most widespread and well-known box turtle species. It is native to the eastern part of the United States and is characterized by its domed shell with distinct patterns of dark lines and blotches. Eastern box turtles can live in a variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, and wetlands.

2. Western Box Turtle (Terrapene ornata)

The Western box turtle is found in the western part of the United States, primarily in states like Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. It has a similar appearance to the Eastern box turtle, with a domed shell and intricate patterns on the shell. Western box turtles prefer arid and semi-arid habitats, including deserts and grasslands.

3. Three-Toed Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina triunguis)

The Three-Toed box turtle is a subspecies of the Eastern box turtle. It is primarily found in the southern United States and is characterized by having three toes on the hind limbs, unlike other box turtles that usually have four toes. It shares similar habitat preferences with the Eastern box turtle.

4. Gulf Coast Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina major)

The Gulf Coast box turtle is another subspecies of the Eastern box turtle. It is native to the Gulf Coast region of the United States, including states like Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama. It has a large and heavily domed shell with dark patterns. Gulf Coast box turtles inhabit a variety of habitats, including swamps, marshes, and coastal areas.

5. Ornate Box Turtle (Terrapene ornata)

The Ornate box turtle is found in the central and southwestern regions of the United States. It has a distinctive pattern on its shell, consisting of radiating lines and dots. Ornate box turtles are adapted to prairies, grasslands, and open woodlands. They are known for their ability to withstand extreme temperatures.

These are just a few examples of box turtles, and there are other species and subspecies with specific regional distributions. It’s important to note that box turtles are protected in many areas due to declining populations, so it’s crucial to respect their natural habitats and conservation efforts when encountering them.