How to Tell the Age of a Box Turtle – Follow the 2 Secret Steps

The average lifespan of the box turtle is around 40 to 50 years. But it is quite impossible to tell the ages of the turtle by merely looking at it as the size of the cute animal changes minimal with age. However, there are different techniques to be assured about the age of a turtle. Keep reading the pieces of writing to know how to tell the age of a box turtle.

How to Tell the Age of a Box Turtle

Different Ways to Tell the Age of Turtle

If you are planning to pet a turtle, it is imperative to know the turtle’s age. It is a crucial aspect to identify for ensuring proper dietary, nutrition, and habitat for the well-being of the specie. You can use the below-mentioned procedures to check the turtle’s age:

Knowing the Age with Counting Rings

Counting the rings of the turtles is one of the common ways to know its age. Here are the instructions that you will need to follow to check the age of the box turtle using the procedure:

  1. Pick the turtle from the aquarium or tank for determining its age.  You will notice scute covering the entire shell of the turtle. You will need to count the rings on the crust.
  2. There should be two types of rings within the scute of the turtle. There will be bigger rings and smaller rings. The bigger ring represents a good season when the turtle gets adequate foods (summer or warmer seasons). On the other hand, the smaller rings will represent the scarcity period (winter).
  3. Note that you will need to count the turtle’s rings, not the scute as the scute doesn’t represent the turtle’s age. So, count all the rings on the turtle’s shell.
  4. Now you will need to divide the number of rings on the turtle by two. So, if there are 16 rings on the turtle’s shell, then the turtle age should be around eight years.

Note that the rings on the turtle bodies only gives you an estimate about the turtle’s age. They can develop more or fewer rings depending on the weather, famine, and feast. That means the turtle can develop more rings when they are hungry apart from developing them during the summer and winter season. More so, if the turtle is more than 15 years, then you simply cannot use the method to find the turtle’s age like the rings will be closer.

Measuring Turtle Age from Size

You can also measure the turtle’s age from its size, especially when it comes to the younger turtles. This technique will not be a good choice for the aged turtle as their growth rate slow down with time.

Here are the steps that you will require to follow:

  1. Start with measuring the turtle’s tip to tail to know its size. Make sure that the turtle is standstill during the procedure to decide the size using a ruler easily. You may offer food to the turtle in the meantime so that it can bring out the face.
  2. Now find the growth chart of the box turtle from the internet or other sources. Now check the age of the turtle depending on the measured size.

The three-toed box turtle and eastern box turtle size will vary around 4.5 to 6 inches when it is adult. Besides, the size of the gulf coast box turtle is approximately 5 to 7 inches when the ornate box turtles are usually around 4 to 5 inches.

Signs of Age in Turtle

Sometimes you can also estimate the age of the turtle by looking at its shell color and condition. Especially when it comes to wild varieties, there will be more wear and tear in the older turtles. Besides, there will bemultiple chips or dents on the carapaces, scars on the heads or legs. The plastrons of the turtle will be smooth. While you cannot tell the exact age from the signs, you are assured that the turtle is adult and should be around 10 to 20 years.

You cannot see such signs in the captive turtles as they don’t sustain damages on the shells and other body parts. However, their carapaces should become darker as they become adults. This method cannot be efficient in some situations as the turtle may get visual signs on the shell when you don’t get an appropriate diet or nutrition.


As you see, no method lets you now the accurate age of the turtle. While buying a turtle, you may ask the seller about the lifetime. Besides, if you are hatchling the turtle, then you can also keep track of the age. You may use the procedures as mentioned above to find the age of the box turtle when none of the options are available. You can at least know the estimated age of the turtle.

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