Gulf Coast Box Turtle

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Species group:

Other common names: North American Box Turtle

Scientific name: Terrapene carolina major

The basics:
Part land animal, part aquatic these small turtles natural range covers part of the eastern half of the United States and into northern Mexico. They always live near a water source, often near riparian habitats and marshes. They stay in their small territories of less than 750 square feet.

Due to the North American Box Turtle’s population decline, in several states they are a protected species. In Florida you may possess up to two but may not sell, buy, or trade them, this applies to all three subspecies. Other states, such as Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia also have regulations regarding their possession. It’s best to check with your state’s Fish and Game Department for regulations before acquiring a North American Box Turtle.

Appearance / health:
As their name suggests all the subspecies of the North American Box Turtle are able to box themselves into their shell thanks to a hinged plasteron. All have a high and well rounded carapace, a compact body, a small hook on the upper beak, and toes with slight webbing. The Gulf Coast Box Turtles are smaller at 6” while the Eastern and Three- toed are bigger at 8”, although they may take 20 years to reach their full size. Males have orange to red eyes while females are light orange to yellow.

The Gulf Coast Box Turtle ( T. c. major) is the largest of the four subspecies coming in at a hefty one and a half pounds and 8 ½ inches in length. They are usually the darkest in color, sometimes appearing almost black and may have splashes of yellow to burnt orange coloring on their shell. They have four toes on the back feet.



If you have the subspecies Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) go here to rate your turtle: Eastern Box Turtle

If you have the subspecies Three-toed Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina triunguis) go here to rate your turtle: Three-toed Box Turtle

Behavior / temperament:
An interesting personality trait is that these guys love rain; a good thunderstorm will make them very active.

It is believed by many that housing these box turtles indoors in glass aquariums is not ideal and leads to health problems and a shorten life span. Most anywhere in the United States these turtles can be house quite easily outdoors where they thrive. A minimum sized enclosure for two Gulf Coast Box Turtles is 8 square feet of floor space. Their outdoor enclosure should be designed with protection from escaping, predators, and giving them the option to have the benefit of the sun, wind, and rain, or to hide from the elements. They will enjoy the use of a small pool for drinking and defecating. Provide burrowing space, rocks, or boxes for hiding and sleeping. Natural grasses and other foods can be planted for them to forage on. Regular cleaning can be done easily by raking the area and washing all water sources.
LIFESPAN: 30-40 years

TEMPERATURE/HUMIDITY: Day temperatures should be 70 – 85 degrees F. with 60-80% humidity. Night temperatures should be 50-60 degrees F. If you are living in the drier or desert regions of the U.S. you can raise the humidity of their enclosure with damp soil, grass, shrubs, and misters.

HIBERNATION / ESTIVATION: These turtles will naturally hibernate if temperatures drop below 50 degrees F and estivate at temperatures above 90 degrees F. They do need a 2 -3 month hibernation. During hibernation temperatures should be maintained at 55-65 degrees F. Whether hibernating indoors or out they must be in a location that is humid so that they do not dehydrate and die. If the temperature outside regularly drops below 25° F they should be brought inside for hibernation.

HEALTH CONCERNS: Box Turtles originating directly from the wild often suffer from several illnesses including parasite, internal and external, salmonella, dehydration and starvation. Those born in captivity and have been given quality care are less likely to be stressed by the pet life and much healthier overall. They can also suffer from nutritional deficiencies and respiratory diseases. Eye and ear infections can occur if they are not provided with sufficient humidity.

Young North American Box Turtles are primarily carnivorous, eating anything they can catch including snakes, birds, eggs, dead animals, bugs, and snails. Once they reach maturity at the age of 5 or six they switch to an omnivorous diet. As a pet, owners should give their box turtle a diet that closely resembles what they would eat in the wild. Young box turtles can be fed mice, snails and slugs from the yard (a nice bonus of having a box turtle), bugs, and canned low fat dog food. Adult box turtles should be fed a variety dark leafy greens, vegetables, and fruits. Adults do need 10 – 20% of their diet to be protein. They can be fed the same foods as young box turtles to meet this need. Feed adults every other day, young daily. Both young and adults must have a reptile vitamin supplement a couple times a week sprinkled on their food. Choose foods that are brightly colored; lots of yellow, orange, and red foods will help your box turtle to maintain their vibrant colors.

The breeding season is in spring and summer months. The actual act of mating act can last hours, and the females can store sperm for years – something to know if you have or plan to get a female! The female will lay multiple clutches throughout several weeks. The eggs will hatch 50-90 days later.


good first pet, highly underrated pet, fabulous pets, temperament


slowest friend

Helpful Gulf Coast Box Turtle Review

Gulf Coast Box Turtle

From piccolina1974 Jul 26 2013 4:59AM


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