Box Turtle Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Thomas Philip
In this lesson, you will learn about box turtles. You will discover how how box turtles got their name, where they live, what they eat and how they survive during different seasons.

Why Is It Called a 'Box Turtle?'

Imagine if you could make your body turn into a box and hide in it just for a bit. Well, a box turtle can do just that! A box turtle has a shell with a hinge that can close it, helping to protect the turtle from enemies. They can keep their head, tail, and limbs in the shell and close it shut, and this ability is what gives the box turtle its name. Usually, the box turtle closes its shell up when scared, and it will stay in the shell until it thinks the enemy is gone.

Box turtles can close up their shells and hide inside.

Where Do Box Turtles Live?

Box turtles are native to the United States and Mexico, though people all over the world like to keep them as pets. A box turtle can live in open woodlands, pastures, marshes, streams, and ponds. In the wild, box turtles can live to be 50-100 years old.

There are six different types of box turtles categorized by where they live. The Florida box turtle, Gulf Coast box turtle, Three-Toed box turtle, and Eastern box turtle can be found in the United States. In Mexico, you can find the Mexican box turtle and Yucatan box turtle. These sub-species have small differences--for instance, they may be different sizes or have different sleeping patterns due to their environments--but they all have the same defining characteristic: Their shells can close up for protection.

Box turtles can live up to 100 years old.

Box Turtle Characteristics

Box turtles are about 20 centimeters long. The male box turtle is a little bit larger than the female, but this can be hard to notice. One way to tell them apart is to look at their eyes: Males usually have red eyes, while females typically have yellowish-brown eyes.

Box turtles are very active during the day when it's warm. They prefer the temperature between 84 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. If it gets too hot in the summer, box turtles will relax during the sunny hours and be active in the early mornings or after a cool rain. To stay cool in the summer, they hide under decaying, or dying, logs and leaves. They also crawl into burrows or mud to cool off.

Male box turtles have red eyes.

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