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.
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 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.
When the weather starts to cool down in October or November, box turtles in the northern United States (where it's cooler) go into hibernation, which is a long period of sleep and rest. They dig into the ground, mud, or bottom of streams to hibernate and usually wake up in April.
What Do Box Turtles Eat?
In the spring and in the summer, box turtles might be out looking for food all day. Box turtles are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals, but their specific diets depend on the turtle's age. Young box turtles usually prefer to eat insects, such as, slugs, cockroaches, snakes, birds, and worms. Older box turtles prefer a more plant-based diet. They eat lettuce, moss, grass, fallen fruits, and berries.
Box turtles are turtles that get their name for their ability to completely hide their bodies in their shells. There are six different types of box turtles in the United States and Mexico, and those that live in the northern United States hibernate when it gets cold. They are omnivores and can live up to a 100 years in the wild.
To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account
Register to view this lesson
Unlock Your Education
See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com
Become a Study.com member and start learning now.Become a Member
Already a member? Log InBack