The Gulf Coast Box Turtle is the largest of the American Box
Turtles (Terrapene carolina), growing to a length of 7
inches. This turtle, like all the American Box Turtles, has
a hinged lower shell (plastron) that allows it to pull in
its head, legs and tail and close the shell for protection.
It has a high domed dark brown or black shell which has
yellow or cream markings if the turtle is not very old.
These turtles are primarily dark colored, including having
brown skin, but some males may have brighter or white
markings on their neck or forelegs. The males also usually
have red eyes and longer, thicker tails than the females, as
well as a concave spot on the lower shell, (plastron) that
helps them stay on top of the female when mating.
The Gulf Coast Box Turtle of course lives along the coast of
the Gulf of Mexico in the southern United States, from the
Florida panhandle west to the coast of eastern Texas, in
woodlands and meadows, where it eats just about anything it
can get into its mouth, such as mushrooms, plants, snails,
slugs, insects, wild fruit that has dropped, snakes, frogs,
eggs, carrion, etc. It's scientific name is Terrapene
Gulf Coast Box Turtles, like most of their relatives, need a
large outdoor enclosure for a home (4' by 4' per turtle
minimum), with daily clean water in which to drink and
bathe, shady cool areas and warm sunny areas, deep leaf
litter to dig in, a hiding shelter, plants to attract worms
and bugs to keep them entertained, and a wide variety of
appropriate food three times a week.
Coast Box Turtle
Their pen will need to be well enclosed, both to keep them
in - they dig and climb well, and to keep out predators.
Line the inside of the pen with concrete blocks or boards
well above turtle head height, so they won't be so prone to
dig or climb their way out to what they can see.
Learn all you can about box turtles before you buy one as a
pet. Read all the box turtle articles on this website,
search the Internet for the number of great sites dedicated
to turtles, read books, talk to your vet, find other turtle
owners to talk to and who can answer your questions. A box
turtle can live more than 40 years, some may live to be 100,
so a turtle for a pet is a big commitment, and it can be
expensive to provide a proper habitat. Make sure you start
Also, buy a captive-bred turtle from a breeder rather than a
possibly wild-caught pet store turtle if you can, because
the wild population of nearly every species of turtle is
rapidly thinning due to loss of habitat and the Asian turtle
market, plus wild-caught turtles are usually in poor health
and often parasite-ridden.
Box turtles are charming and friendly reptiles, and can make
wonderful pets if they have a concerned and knowledgeable
owner. They are not good pets for children unless an adult
is willing to be primarily responsible for their care, and
unless the child is able to enjoy a pet that does not like
to be handled.
Refreshingly FUN - Stuffed Box Turtles