Eastern Box TurtleTerrapene c. carolina
Bobby came to The New Children’s Museum on July 16, 2010. At the time he was donated, he was estimated to be about 30 years old. His red eyes and concave plastron (the bottom of the shell) indicate he is a male box turtle.
One way to tell the difference between a turtle and a tortoise is how they walk. A turtle drags its plastron when it walks, while a tortoise lifts the plastron up off the ground. Walking in the footsteps of great artists like Picasso, Bobby has developed a new hobby…. PAINTING! The most renowned artist in The Wildlife Sanctuary, Bobby the box turtle creates his masterpieces by dipping his feet in different colored paints and then “feet-painting” across the canvas. An example of his artwork can be seen in the Museum’s snack area.
10 Fun Facts about Eastern Box Turtles
- In Connecticut, they are listed as a “Species of Special Concern.”
- The skin and carapace (the top of the shell) can be brightly patterned with yellow, orange and red markings.
- Box turtles have a hinge on the plastron (the bottom of the shell) allowing them to pull their legs and head into the shell to protect themselves from predators.
- Box turtles inhabit a very small home range their entire lives, typically no larger than 2 acres.
- Box turtles have an internal “GPS” system that allows them to remain in the same area in which they hatched. If moved and released elsewhere, they will attempt to walk back to where they were found, often putting them at risk on roads.
- Box turtles are omnivores, meaning they eat both meat and plant matter. In the wild, their diet consists of earthworms, slugs, insects, leaves, fruits, berries and carrion. They are opportunistic carnivores, eating any meat they can catch.
- Females lay a clutch of 3 to 8 eggs from mid May to June. The eggs take 3 to 4 months to hatch depending on the temperature. If temperatures are colder, it takes longer for the eggs to hatch. During a relatively warm summer, it takes a shorter amount of time for the eggs to hatch.
- During a cooler summer, the eggs may not hatch until late fall. These hatchlings will hibernate within the nest and emerge in the spring when temperatures rise.
- The life span of a eastern box turtle can range from 50 to 100 years.
- The three biggest conservation concerns for the eastern box turtle are collection for the pet trade, road mortality and habitat loss due to development.
Canton Box Turtle Study
Since 1999, Roaring Brook Nature Center has been conducting a survey on eastern box turtles in Canton, Connecticut. Box turtles found in Canton are brought to the Nature Center where information is recorded as to when and where the turtle was found, the weather, and information about the turtle’s carapace length, weight, gender, etc. From 1999 to 2014, a total of 111 box turtles have been recorded as part of this study including ten recaptured turtles. If you are hiking through Werner’s Woods or one of the many other hiking trails in Canton and you find an eastern box turtle, please bring it to Roaring Brook Nature Center. With your help, we can expand the study’s database. By documenting where these remarkable creatures are living, we can better protect their homes and habitats.
This map depicts all recorded turtles to the present day.