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Common Name: Three-Toed Box Turtle

Scientific Name: Terrapene carolina


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Reptillia

Order: Testudines

Family: Emydidae

Genius: Terrapene

Species: T. carolina


Did you know that the Three Toed Box Turtle is a very popular house pet in the United States? Three toed box turtles have been known to live up to 100 years in the wild. In captivity their lifespan have been known to vary from 30-40 years under prefect conditions. The Three Toed Box Turtle scientific classification is, Terrapene Carolina Trungis. The box turtle can live outdoors and indoors. For turtles that live outdoors they need a water dish/food dish, sunny areas, shady areas, moist/humid climates, and a house to protect them from harsh weather. For the indoor turtles they need basically the same living conditions.


They are found in the wild in Texas, Missouri, and Alabama. An adult turtle’s diet should consist of fruit, most types of vegetables, pinky mice (once a week), berries, and insects. Any insects can be found the turtle will eat it. For the baby turtle diet they need vitamins and protein to grow strong into adults. The adult turtle are omnivores but the babies are more carnivores. This diet provides the extra protein they need. Turtles hibernate throughout the winter and usually wake up in April or May. The baby turtles can’t hibernate because they are too little. They will die without the constant vitamins and protein they need. The babies just need to stay up during the hibernation time. You can trick indoor turtles from hibernating by turning the lights on a lot more and make sure they are not any cold chills or wintry conditions.


The Three Toed Box Turtles reproduce in the late spring early summer, right after a thunderstorm. The male turtles have the urge to reproduce in the early spring; after they wake up from hibernation. The females carry sperm in their bodies for several years. The box turtle eggs take 75-90 days to hatch. The eggs hatch in the spring. Temperature defines the gender of a baby turtle. If the turtle is hatched in 71 degrees climate they are likely to be males. If the turtles are hatched in 79 degrees climate they are likely to be female. It takes the female approximately one hour to dig a nest for her eggs depending on conditions. If you want to breed turtles don’t breed brothers with sisters or other family members. The females usually begin to look for a nest in June or July. The females dig their nests with their hind legs. The turtle eggs are 1 ½ inch, oval, and white in color. The eggs need to be in perfect conditions to hatch. If the eggs are laid in the water or above the ground they are infertile. There are many ways to tell the difference between a female and a male Box Turtle. The males have thicker tales than the females; another way is that the males have red or orange spots on their legs and head. The females have yellow spots on their legs and head. Like all animals’ turtles have a temperament.


They are very shy, friendly, and can be very curious when in a big environment. Baby turtles are very timid and will run away if frightened but are usually still quite curious. The Box Turtles favorite weather is warm and overcast, just before a rainstorm, and after a thunderstorm. If you choose to buy a turtle from a pet store try to find a store that cares for its' animals properly. Turtles carry a disease called salmonella and their owners should wash their hands with soap after handling the turtles.


Author Mariah R.
Published: April 2006


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