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  • Rock Creek Park

Featured Reptile or Amphibian: Eastern Box Turtle


What does it look like? An eastern box turtle is a small- to medium-sized turtle, with adults typically reaching no more than 8” in length.  They have a high, domed-back shell.  The bottom of its shell can be closed completely to protect them from predators.  The eastern box turtle's shell shape, pattern, and color vary widely, but all have spots, and most turtles have four claws on their back feet.

How long does it live? The eastern box turtle lives for a very long time (on average 40 to 50 years), but reproduces very slowly.

What does it eat? Eastern box turtles are omnivores that will eat almost any plant or animal that will fit in their mouths.  Younger box turtles are primarily carnivores, but as they age their diet becomes more varied.

Where does it live? The eastern box turtle can live in a range of environments, but do best in moist forest areas with lots of underbrush.

How is threatened? Because the eastern box turtle grows slowly and has few young, it is particularly vulnerable to damage from human activities.  The eastern box turtle faces many dangers such as commercial activities, personal collection, predation by dogs and raccoons, and traffic.  Habitat destruction, however, is the chief danger for the turtle.  Since the wetland areas along Rock Creek make excellent turtle habitat, it is important they are protected.

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