Three Toed Box Turtle

Scientific Name Terrapene carolina triunguis

Native To Southeast and Central USA

Habitat Wooded swamps or dry, grassy fields.

Diet Omnivores. For vegetation they tend to eat moss, grass, and fallen berries and fruit. They get most of their meat from insects and other small creatures, such as crickets, grasshoppers, snails and slugs.

Size and Age Average size is 3-5 inches. Average lifespan 50-60 years.

Natural History

The three toed box turtle is a subspecies of the eastern common box turtle. The name comes from their back feet, which only have 3 toes.  They can live in a wide variety of habitats, from wooded swamps to dry, grassy fields. They are most abundant and healthy in moist forested areas with plenty of underbrush. They will often venture into shallow water at the edge of ponds or streams, or in puddles. Box Turtles are unique in that they have a hinged shell that gives them the ability to conceal their body entirely in their shell, allowing them to hide from predators.


Conservation Status

Box turtle populations are declining due to being captured and sold in the animal trade. Many countries protect box turtle populations and have laws against collecting box turtles from the wild. Wild caught turtles do not adjust well to captivity and many die from the stress. It is best to get a pet box turtle bred in captivity from a reputable organization, such as the Edmonton Reptile Rescue Society.

Interesting Facts

  1. Box Turtles have a hinged shell that enables it to conceal its limbs and head within it shell entirely.
  2. Males have red eyes and females have brown eyes.
  3. Their shell can hold the weight of a buffalo
  4. All turtles have 13 scutes
  5. The Three Toed Box Turtle gets its name from having only 3 toes on their hind feet.