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Facts About Three Toed Box Turtles

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The three-toed box turtle (Terrapene carolina triunguis) is a diurnal reptile that is part of the family Emydidae. These land turtles usually are at their most productive either during the morning hours or right after a rainfall. Three-toed box turtles generally reside in the southern United States, including Texas, Georgia and Alabama.

Physical Appearance

Three-toed box turtles' upper shells are usually between 4.5 and 5 inches long, indicates the Department of Conservation for Missouri. Their upper shells are tall and brownish, beige or grayish-green, and the lower shells are similar in coloration. While the females possess brownish-yellow eyes, the males' eyes are crimson. Some three-toed box turtles' shells are full of conspicuous lines and blots, while others do not have any. As their handles share, these turtles' back feet usually boast three toes.

Natural Habitat

For the most part, three-toed box turtles reside in forests. However, they also frequently set up camp on the fringes of forests, in meadows, pastures, fields with ample brush, floodplains and damp woodlands. These meek turtles typically stay close to water bodies -- both transient and lasting.


Fully grown three-toed box turtles tend to follow omnivorous food patterns, including fungi, plants and berries. Juvenile three-toed box turtles, however, are big on earthworms and bugs -- and not so much on plants. Other forms of sustenance that the adults routinely eat are decaying animal remains, eggs, amphibians, tiny rodents, grass, snails, bones, crayfish and slugs.


The reproductive season for three-toed box turtles begins in the end of April and ceases around July, although it occasionally lasts a little longer. Male three-toed box turtles woo females by expanding their throats, which are bright orange. In most cases, the females lay eggs -- between three and eight of them -- starting in May and ending in the beginning of July. The incubation process lasts for roughly three months. Incubation temperatures can determine the gender of the hatchlings. While the lower temperatures encourage male offspring, the higher ones encourage female offspring.

Life Expectancy

Free roaming three-toed box turtles often survive for 25 to 40 years, according to Cosley Zoo. Those that reside in captivity usually live longer -- think around 50 years. In rare instances, three-toed box turtles can exceed a century in age.