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What Is the Most Common Turtle?

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The more common a turtle is, the more likely you will be to encounter that type of turtle in a pond or pet store in your area. A variety of different turtles can be seen in the United States, but some kinds of turtles are more likely to be seen than others.

The Most Common Turtle

The box turtle is generally considered the most common species of turtle in the United States. The box turtle is a part of the family Emydidae. Box turtles can be found in five out of seven continents, and Emydidae is the largest turtle family on the globe.

Types of Box Turtles

Moderate differences exist between the different types of box turtle. Each type of box turtle has developed special adaptations that allow them to survive in their unique natural environment. Types of box turtles include the common box turtle, eastern box turtle, Florida box turtle, three-toed box turtle, spotted box turtle and ornate box turtle. Box turtles have a lifespan that can range anywhere between 30 and 70 years, depending on the species and the environment it lives in.

Identifying Features

Box turtles have domes shells and can fully withdraw their entire bodies into their shells to avoid predators. Box turtles are dark brown in color and can feature yellow, orange or black markings. Box turtles can mature to a size of 6 to 8 inches in length. According to the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, male box turtles can be easily distinguished from female box turtles because males have red eyes and females have brown eyes. Male box turtles also have longer tails.


Box turtles typically live on land in areas near ponds, lakes or streams. Box turtles are omnivores who eat a varying diet that can include seeds, plants, insects and even other animals if the opportunity to do so arises. Box turtles generally develop a home range of land where they live, travel, mate and reproduce during their lifetimes. The range is determined by the resources available to the turtle and terrain of the area. A box turtle's home range can be anywhere from 3 to 100 acres.


Most box turtles are sexually mature and capable of reproduction by they time they are 13 years old. The mating season for box turtles occurs between the summer and fall months of the year. Female box turtle will store the sperm in their bodies until spring, when they fertilize and lay between two and six eggs. The eggs take between two and four months to hatch.