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woodland box turtle

woodland box turtle (Terrapene carolina)

Features and Behaviors

The woodland box turtle averages four and one-half to six inches in length. Its high, domelike carapace (upper shell) has a varied color pattern of yellow, orange or olive on a dark background. The female’s eyes are brown while the male’s eyes are red, making it easy to tell the sexes apart. This turtle has four toes on each hind foot, a short tail and a hinged plastron (lower shell) that allows the animal to completely enclose itself in the shell.

The woodland box turtle may be found in the southern one-half of Illinois. It has also been introduced by humans into urban areas in other parts of the state. This reptile lives in woodlands, fields, field edges and mud holes. The eastern box turtle is mainly terrestrial but may spend time in water or buried in mud during the summer. It buries itself in soil or mud in winter. Mating may occur in the spring or fall. The female deposits three to eight eggs in a nest in soil during June or July, often at the edge of a woodland. Hatching occurs by September. This turtle eats fungi, fruits and invertebrates.

Illinois Range


​Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Family: Emydidae

Illinois Status: common, native