Last Updated: 5/13/13
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Box turtle specific information is now on the three pages below.
Box Turtle Information:
Box Turtle Care:
On This Page:
See my pond story page for a story about one of our wild box turtles in my pond.
For information on raising mealworms, see my page on mealworms.
See my main turtle page for more turtle stuff!
We saw the same few Eastern box turtles from the late 70's until April of 2001, at least once a year. The resident male was killed via vehicular manslaughter on 10/5/99 by one of our neighbors. The resident young female died from a respiratory infection on 4/20/01 under the care of a person experienced with turtles (she was receiving Baytril injections for it). The resident old female (the mother) was found on 6/5/01 and said to be healthy. When I was maybe five years old, I named her Fred (I only realized she was a girl a few years ago). She has always been there as had the other two turtles that died. The last female may no longer have a male to breed with as development has destroyed 90% of the land around us cutting off any males further away.
During the worst drought around here in almost a century during 1999, I came across both girls (mother and daughter, about a day apart at different spots on our land) at the driest time, and they were in sorry shape. After a few hours in warm water up to their plastron, during which they drank literally non-stop and defecated and after half a dozen king mealworms each to eat, they were raring to go. I like to think that I saved their lives since there was no water or insects around anymore (my ponds have sharp drop-offs that they cannot use), and it was in the high 90's degrees F! I saw the daughter who was about half grown in early October 1999, crawling into the mulch I recently put around a tree. She was so cute! I have not seen her since. I think she may have been the turtle that died of the respiratory infection mentioned above in April of 2001.
In September of 2003, my mother came across our resident large female, Fred. She was not alone. A large male was on top of her! Great news! Well, not really. Two days later, a neighbor squashed him ensuring that box turtles are not common here. An expert said the mating was "practice" and so she was not "with turtle." A few weeks later, on 10/6/03, my mother came across the female again and put her inside so I could see her when I came home. Unfortunately, when I saw her, I knew right away that she was horribly sick. We renamed her Freddie. She got professional vet and turtle rehabilitator treatment for an upper respiratory infection, conjunctivitis, and some shell fungus. With daily Baytril shots, eye medication (see under conjunctivitis), and shell medication (1% silver sulfadiazine), she recovered and was released on 10/19/03. I put up five photos of her from the day before release.
On 10/18/03, when I launched this page on my web site, I was outside and heard a loud noise. One of our rare black phase gray squirrels was gnawing on something. It was a long-dead juvenile Eastern box turtle carapace. This was very sad but at least the shell served to help the squirrels get calcium and trim their teeth.
Freddie came back on 5/28/04 to dig a hole in the mulch by my pond, maybe to lay eggs. She had a pink mark on her lower back where my mother had put some nail polish to mark her. She also had a gash in her shell but not that bad. I flushed it a little with hydrogen peroxide and put some of the 1% silver sulfadiazine cream in it. The next morning, I did not see her at first. Then, I discovered her hanging on a pot in my 1800 gallon pond! She would never have gotten out on her own with the rock walls but luckily the shallow area saved her from drowning. I fished her out and put her back next to the hole. She later moved and started on another hole. One eye looked a little suspicious like before but not enough to pull her from the wild. She hung around a few more days and again on 5/31/04, I had to fish her out of the pond! She dug four holes in the mulch but never left eggs. On 5/30/04, my brother discovered another box turtle on our land! It was not her as she was by the pond at the same time. This other one might be male since his eyes are almost red, and the plastron is slightly concave. I thought the box turtles were all dead! I am so glad I was totally wrong!
I saw Freddie junior (looks like Freddie but less damage to her back) in the spring of 2005 once and on 11/5/05 on a 70 degree F day. She was booking down the road so I brought her back to the middle of our property. I sure hope she can avoid the cars, lawn mowers, and kids who might take her. She is full size. This time, her eyes had turned red, typical of males, but her plastron was flat (meaning she is still female).
In May of 2006, I came across a male box turtle but did not do anything with him. On 5/31/06, my mother found Freddie Junior and stuck her in a box with some water to drink (it was really hot). When I got home, I took photos (below), gave her a king mealworm which she scarfed up, and let her go.
I saw our resident female box turtle walking by the road on 5/11/13 in the rain.
There are some more box turtle sightings mentioned below with the photos from those sightings.
Photos are listed from oldest to newest.
Here are three photos of the pair of box turtles that my mother came across in mid-September of 2003 that I scanned. The poor male was killed by vehicular manslaughter just days later. In all cases the male is on the right with his head out, and Freddie is hiding. It is a shame I never got to see the male alive. In fact, I have only once seen a live possible male on our property (5/30/04) but saw two hit by cars about three years apart.
Here are some photos of Freddie up close the day before we released her on 10/18/03:
Freddie - all of her from a distance (that is
an earthworm at the top)
Freddie's carapace - it is a little greasy from the medication to treat the minor green growth problem
Freddie's head and front legs
When Freddie returned on 5/29/04, I took these two photos:
Freddie from the side
Freddie's back - see the cut on the upper right and the pink nail polish on the lower back my mother marked her with the previous fall.
Here is a photo of another young female Eastern box turtle (not Freddie but Freddie Junior) on
9/13/04 that my mother held to show me. I gave her some water (which she is sitting in in the
photo) and let her go.:
Female box turtle
Here are two photos of Freddie Junior on 5/31/06. I think this is the same turtle as the last
Female box turtle
Female box turtle
On 10/7/07, in the morning, I saw a box turtle on my pond net! That is not normal for that time
of the year. They should be getting ready to hibernate. Instead, it was nearly 90 degrees F, and
this guy wanted water. I was surprised to find the box turtle was a mature male. I have not seen
one of those on our land in years since the resident male was killed by vehicular manslaughter.
This one had the red eyes and concave plastron which makes it sure that he is male. He was
stuck under the net.
Male box turtle - stuck under the net
Male box turtle - free
On 6/9/08, my mother found a male box turtle in the neighbor's driveway, probably the same as
the one in the last batch of photos from last year. She put him in a box to give him water (it was
95 degrees F) and to show me when I got home. I took photos and released him on our land.
Here are some photos of him:
Male box turtle - top/carapace view, note his red eyes
Male box turtle - bottom/plastron view, not really in focus, note the concave plastron (like a bowl)
On 8/31/08, my mother found our male and female box turtles. He was trying to mate with her
near the end of the road (where others drive). We carried them back on to our land, took a few
photos, and let them go behind the chicken pen. I am glad they are doing well!
Pair of box turtles - female on the left (Freddie Junior?) and male on the right.
On 8/2/12, I was out on a walk with my niece when we came across this funny picture in the
back yard! A pair was mating (similar to four years previous) but the male had attached and
then had flipped over.
Mating box turtles - male on the left, female on the right. They are attached.
Mating box turtles - another view.
Mating box turtles - another view
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