Eastern Box Turtle carapace by Mike Marchand

Eastern Box Turtle

(Terrapene carolina carolina)

NH Conservation Status: Species of Special Concern, Wildlife Action Plan Species in Greatest Need of Conservation. Legally protected in New Hampshire: possession, sale, import, and take (harm, harass, injuring, killing) is illegal.

State Rank Status: Status of box turtles in New Hampshire not known, no known populations.

Distribution: Reports received from southern New Hampshire.

Description:A small 4.5-7 inch turtle with a highly domed shell and variable patterning.  Color patterns of the carapace typically consist of irregular yellow or orange markings over a brown or black base. The skin is uniformly dark with yellow or orange markings.  

Commonly Confused Species: Blanding's turtle

Habitat: Terrestrial areas such as dry and moist woodlands, old fields, pastures, power-line corridors, and edges of marshes, bogs, and shallow streams. During hot weather, may rest in water or burrow under logs and moist vegetation.

Life History: During summer, excavates nests in loose, loamy soil in open areas such as hayfields, pastures, or roadsides. Hibernates under soil, decaying vegetation, or in mammal burrows.

Conservation Threats: Habitat loss and fragmentation, road mortality, and collection for pets.

Distribution map: Click here for a map showing the towns where this species is reported to occur in NH

Eastern Box Turtle
Eastern box turtles are generally dark brown with various yellow and orange markings on the shell, neck, and limbs. Photo by Mike Marchand.
Eastern Box Turtle and mushroom
Box turtles eat a variety of foods including insects, carrion, fruits, and mushrooms. Photo by Mike Marchand.
Eastern Box Turtle plastron
Box turtle plastron (lower shell) with hinge. Photo by Mike Marchand.
Eastern Box and Blanding's turtles
Size and color comparison of an adult eastern box turtle (above) and adult Blanding’s turtle (below). Photo by Mike Marchand.


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