Red eyes aren't just a thing of horror cinema. When it comes to eastern box turtles (Terrapene carolina), the majority of the male specimens have them, so if your boy pet turtle is in this category, you're likely not just seeing things. Although male eastern box turtles are usually red-eyed, the females, on the other hand, usually are not.
Eye Coloration in Eastern Box Turtles
The irises are the red part of the male turtles' eyes. Occasionally, a male's eyes may point more toward the orange rather than red side, although this is not common. The female eye color is typically brownish-yellow to brown. In some rare instances, however, female eastern box turtles do have deep red eyes, according to the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program in Massachusetts.
Other Physical Differences in the Genders
Eye color isn't the only physical characteristic that usually makes male eastern box turtles distinguishable from their female pals. Turtle plastrons, the breastplate and lower shell area, also vary. The male turtles' plastrons' are just a tad hollow in form, while those of the females are practically entirely level. Male eastern box turtles also have lengthier and denser tails when compared with the fairer sex. Their back leg claws are also noticeably longer. Lastly, the males also sometimes have vivid orange forelimbs and heads.
Eastern Box Turtle Basic Information
These small, omnivorous and terrestrial reptiles, both male and female, eat varied diets that consist of components such as fruit, bugs, slugs, snails, earthworms and occasionally even the rotting carcasses of dead animals. Habitat-wise, eastern box turtles are very diverse, often living in green meadows, pastures, woodlands, forests, sandhills and marshes. These turtles do particularly well in damp forests that are full of shrubbery.
Possible Health Problem
Although male eastern box turtles have red eyes by nature, that simply isn't the case with all turtles. If your pet turtle's eyes seen unusually puffy looking and red, it may be an indication that he has a health problem. If you suspect that this is the case, schedule an appoint with an exotic veterinarian immediately, especially if the eye redness is accompanied by any other unusual symptoms such as exhaustion, rotting shell, watery stools or weight loss.
- Savannah River Ecology Laboratory: Eastern Box Turtle
- Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife: Eastern Box Turtle
- California Turtle & Tortoise Club: United States' Box Turtles
- Fairfax County Public Schools: Eastern Box Turtle
- Biology @ Davison: Eastern Box Turtle Information
- Ohio Department of Natural Resources: Eastern Box Turtle
- Amphibians and Reptiles of North Carolina: Eastern Box Turtle
- Indiana Department of Natural Resources: Eastern Box Turtle
- Biological Sciences & Towson University: Eastern Box Turtle
- The Turtle Puddle: What's Wrong With My Turtle's Eyes?