Eastern Box Turtle

By William T. Hathaway

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina)

Our familiar Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) is still quite common throughout Pittsylvania County, Virginia. This is somewhat surprising since road-kill and various other tragedies have befallen the species.

Despite my reluctance to have hiking students on field trips take a box turtle home as a temporary pet, I usually give in to a student's desire in order not to break (as it most certainly seems) a hiker's heart. Inevitably a few of these captive creatures are doomed.

Records indicate that the average lifespan for this box turtle is from 30 to 40 years, and there are reports of individuals over 100 years old. In my top photo I have confirmed the general belief that in adult males the iris of the eye is red; the lower photo shows that the iris of the adult female is yellowish brown.

(See also another article by this writer concerning the Eastern Box Turtle.)