Posted by Kasey | 09.26.2023 | Sea Turtle Camp News

Meet North Carolina’s State Reptile, the Eastern Box Turtle!

We love sea turtles but let’s switch gears and talk about a different kind of turtle. Meet North Carolina’s State Reptile, the Eastern Box Turtle!

The Eastern Box Turtle gets its name because of a special feature on their shell! They have a hinge on their plastron that allows it to move and close up for protection. They pull their head, legs, and tails inside and close up like a box. Eastern Box Turtles have beautiful colorations on their shells that differ from turtle to turtle but are primarily orange and yellow. Their colorations allow them to blend in with their surroundings and add another layer of protection from predators. They are commonly found on the forest floor, in meadows, or in areas of dense shrubbery throughout the Southeast.

Eastern Box Turtles eat a wide variety of food. They will eat worms, plants, mushrooms, fruits, insects, and more! Their predators are raccoons, coyotes, foxes, ants, birds of prey, and snakes. Since 1979, the Eastern Box Turtle has been the state reptile of North Carolina. However, throughout the state, their numbers are declining due to habitat destruction, pet trade, and other human impacts. It is listed as a priority species in the North Carolina Wildlife Action Plan and biologists are watching it closely.

-Michaela LeMay, Program Coordinator