What Is A Box Turtle Called?

Box turtles are fascinating creatures that belong to the family of Emydidae. They are known for their unique ability to retract their head, limbs, and tail into their shell, making them a popular pet to many animal lovers. However, if you are new to the world of box turtles, you might be wondering what a box turtle is called and how to identify one.

The term “box turtle” is used to describe any of the six species of turtles that belong to the genus Terrapene. These species are native to North America and are commonly found in wooded areas, grasslands, and marshes. In this article, we will explore the different types of box turtles and how to identify them, so you can become an expert on these fascinating reptiles.

What is a box turtle called?

What is a Box Turtle Called?

Box turtles are a fascinating species of turtles that belong to the Emydidae family. They are known for their unique and distinctive shells, which can be closed like a box, hence the name “box turtle.” In this article, we will explore the different names given to box turtles and delve into some fascinating facts about these amazing creatures.

Common Names of Box Turtles

Box turtles are commonly known by several names, depending on the location. In the United States, they are often referred to as “box turtles,” while in Europe, they are called “terrapins.” Some other common names for box turtles include “land turtles,” “eastern box turtles,” and “ornate box turtles.”

Box turtles are also classified into different species, which have their own unique names. Some of these include the “common box turtle,” “three-toed box turtle,” “Gulf Coast box turtle,” and “Mexican box turtle.”

Physical Characteristics of Box Turtles

Box turtles are relatively small in size, with most species measuring between 4-8 inches in length. They have a distinctive shell that is hinged at the bottom, allowing them to retract their head, tail, and limbs inside it for protection.

Box turtles come in a variety of colors and patterns, ranging from brown and green to yellow and orange. They also have a unique pattern on their shells that can help identify different species.

Habitat and Distribution of Box Turtles

Box turtles are found throughout North America, ranging from southern Canada to Mexico. They prefer to live in wooded areas with access to water, such as streams, ponds, and marshes.

Box turtles are also known to inhabit grasslands, deserts, and even suburban backyards. They are adaptable creatures and can survive in a variety of environments, as long as they have access to food, water, and shelter.

Diet and Feeding Habits of Box Turtles

Box turtles are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals. Their diet consists of fruits, vegetables, insects, worms, snails, and small mammals.

Box turtles are known to be opportunistic feeders, which means they will eat whatever food is available. They have a keen sense of smell and can locate food using their sense of taste and smell.

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Behavior of Box Turtles

Box turtles are solitary creatures and prefer to live alone. They are active during the day and spend most of their time foraging for food and basking in the sun.

Box turtles are also known for their ability to hibernate, which is a survival mechanism to conserve energy during the winter months. They will burrow into the ground and remain dormant until the weather warms up.

Benefits of Keeping Box Turtles as Pets

Box turtles make great pets for those who are willing to provide them with the proper care and attention. They are relatively low maintenance and can be kept in small enclosures.

Box turtles are also fascinating creatures to observe and can live for several decades with proper care. They are gentle and docile creatures that can form strong bonds with their owners.

Disadvantages of Keeping Box Turtles as Pets

Keeping box turtles as pets is a significant responsibility and requires a commitment to providing them with the proper care and attention. They require a specific diet, temperature, and humidity levels to thrive.

Box turtles are also known to carry salmonella bacteria, which can be harmful to humans. Therefore, it is essential to practice good hygiene when handling them.

Box Turtles vs. Other Turtles

Box turtles are unique compared to other species of turtles because of their ability to close their shells like a box. They are also smaller in size and have a distinct pattern on their shells.

Unlike aquatic turtles, box turtles are primarily land-dwelling creatures and do not require a large body of water to thrive. They also have a more varied diet and can eat both plants and animals.


In conclusion, box turtles are fascinating creatures that are known for their unique shells and ability to close them like a box. They are adaptable creatures that can survive in a variety of environments and make great pets for those willing to provide them with the proper care and attention.

Box turtles are known by different names, depending on the location, and have their own unique physical characteristics, diet, and behavior. They are a valuable species that plays an essential role in the ecosystem and should be protected and conserved for future generations to enjoy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions about box turtles:

What are the different types of box turtles?

There are four species of box turtles: Eastern, Florida, Three-toed, and Ornate. Each species has its own unique characteristics and geographic range.

Eastern box turtles are typically found in the eastern and central United States, while Florida box turtles are only found in the state of Florida. Three-toed box turtles have a more limited range, found only in the central United States. Ornate box turtles are found in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico.

What do box turtles eat?

Box turtles are omnivores, which means they eat both plant and animal matter. Their diet may include insects, earthworms, snails, fruits, and vegetables. A varied diet is important for their overall health and well-being.

It is important to note that box turtles should not be fed commercial diets meant for other types of reptiles. These diets may not provide the proper nutrition for box turtles and can lead to health problems.

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How long do box turtles live?

Box turtles are known for their long lifespans. In captivity, they can live up to 50 years or more with proper care. In the wild, their lifespan is typically shorter due to predation, habitat loss, and other factors.

It is important to remember that box turtles are a long-term commitment and should not be taken on as a pet lightly. They require specialized care and can live for several decades.

What is the difference between a box turtle and a tortoise?

While both box turtles and tortoises are members of the turtle family, there are some key differences between the two. One major difference is their habitat. Box turtles are typically found in wooded or grassy areas, while tortoises are found in more arid environments.

Another difference is their diet. While box turtles are omnivores, tortoises are primarily herbivores. Tortoises also have a more domed shell than box turtles, which allows them to retract their head and limbs fully inside for protection.

How do box turtles defend themselves from predators?

Box turtles have a unique defense mechanism – they are able to retract their head, legs, and tail inside their shell and close it tightly, protecting themselves from predators. They also have sharp claws on their feet and a sharp beak that they can use to defend themselves if necessary.

However, box turtles should never be picked up by their shell, as this can cause injury or damage to their spine. Instead, they should be picked up gently and supported from underneath.

Box Turtles: Everything You Need To Know!

In conclusion, the name of a box turtle may vary depending on the specific species. However, these creatures are generally referred to as box turtles due to their unique ability to fully retract their limbs and head into their shell, creating a box-like shape. They are fascinating creatures that have been around for millions of years, and they continue to capture the hearts of many nature enthusiasts.

Box turtles can be found in a variety of habitats, from forests and grasslands to deserts and wetlands. They are highly adaptable and can survive in both urban and rural environments. If you happen to come across a box turtle in the wild, it is important to remember that they are protected species, and it is illegal to take them as pets or disturb their natural habitat.

In short, box turtles are a unique and important part of our ecosystem. They play an important role in maintaining the health and balance of their environment, and they are a joy to observe and learn about. So the next time you see a box turtle, take a moment to appreciate their beauty and importance in our world.

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