Terrapene carolina Photo Fiona Sunquist ©
Box turtles are easily distinguished from other turtles by their high-domed shell marked with bright yellow radiating stripes. These turtles are not very large; adults may grow to a maximum length of 16.5 cm (6.5 in). There are two yellow stripes on the side of the face and the underside of the shell is hinged. Most Florida box turtles have only three long-clawed toes on each hind foot.
Box turtles are found in open woodlands, pine flatwoods and fields. They are often seen crossing highways.
Size is not always the best indicator of longevity because box turtles, which are small, also appear to have a long natural life span. Because these turtles were often seen and caught, it was popular in the past to carve one’s initials and a date on their shells, and there have been several apparently valid cases of individuals that were more than 100 years old. One eastern box turtle found in the state of Rhode Island in 1954 bore the initial ‘G’ and the date 1836, as well as a later date, 1890.
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