Testudines

Field Guide to Maryland's Turtles (Order Testudines)


Eastern Box Turtle

Family: Box and Water Turtles (Family Emydidae)

Common Name:
Eastern Box T​urtle

Scientific Name:

Terrapine c. carolina​


Photo of  Eastern Box Turtle courtesy of Scott A. Smith
Photo of  Eastern Box Turtle courtesy of Scott A. Smith

​​

Size:
4½ - 6 inches. Record - 7¾ inches

Appearance:
  • A high dome-like keeled carapace (top shell) of brown or black, with extremely variable yellow, orange or olive pattern of radiating lines, spots, bars or irregular blotches on each scute.
  • Each scute has concentric growth rings, also giving the shell a sculpted appearance.
  • The plastron (bottom shell) is strongly hinged (single) forming two movable lobes, the front lobe narrower.
  • Four toes on each hind foot.
  • Males have red eyes (usually but not always), while female’s eyes are yellowish brown.


Photo of Habitat for Eastern Box Turtle courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers
Photo of Habitat for Eastern Box Turtle
courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers


Habitats:

A terrestrial species, commonly encountered in rich, open woodlands and riparian forests, but may also be found in pastures and wet meadows, and during hot weather may be found soaking in shallow
waters and mucks of various wetland types or under leaf litter.


How to Find:

Commonly found during the day crossing roads between forest and wetland habitats in spring and summer. Search in moist open woodlands, grassy fields and wetland edges. Active early April to
October.


Distribution in Maryland:

Found throughout Maryland.

Maryland Distribution Map for Eastern Box Turtle