Bird of the Month - June
A familiar, terrestrial turtle, the Eastern Box Turtle is the only turtle in Tennessee that can completely close itself inside its shell. Preferring a moist, mature oak-hickory forest with scattered open areas, this small, high-domed turtle is an omnivore who feasts on plants and grasses, mushrooms, fruit, insects, earthworms, snails, salamanders, and road-kill. Eastern Box turtle exhibit many colors and patterns, most have a yellowish to orange spots intermixed with a dark brown or black background on the shell and skin.
Adults mate in the spring and fall. Females dig a nest in sandy or loose soil to deposit 3-8 elongated, white eggs, and can lay up to 3 clutches per year. Hatchlings emerge after 3 months, but late clutches will not hatch until the next spring. Box turtles are well developed at birth; however they are not able to completely close their shells.
Although common across Tennessee, populations are in decline. Habitat loss and fragmentation from human development, mortality from cars, and collection for pets are putting the populations at risk.
Click here to learn more about Eastern Box Turtle