Box Turtle

Box Turtle

By: Johan

Box turtle classification
The term box turtle can be used for a wide range of different turtle species. Asian box turtles belong to the genera Curoa or Pyxidea in the family Geoemydidae. North American box turtles belong to the genera Terrapene in the family Emydidae. The various species of Box turtle share a few notable physical characteristics, but they differ significantly when it comes to general appearance, behaviour and habitat.

Box turtle body
Both Asian and North American Box turtle species are characterized by their dome shaped shell. The shell is hinged at the bottom, a solution that makes it possible for the box turtle to close its shell completely. This adaptation is a way of avoiding predators.

Asian box turtle species
All known species of Asian box turtles but one belongs to the genus Curoa. Their names are Amboina Box Turtle (Cuora amboinensis), Indochinese Box Turtle (Cuora galbinifrons), McCord's Box Turtle (Cuora mccordi), Pan's Box Turtle (Cuora pani), Snake-eating Turtle (Cuora flavomarginata), Three-banded Box Turtle (Cuora trifasciata), Yellow-headed Box Turtle (Cuora aurocapitata), Yunnan Box Turtle (Cuora yunnanensis) and Zhou's Box Turtle (Cuora zhoui).
The genus named Pyxidea is home to one single species of Asian box turtle, the Keeled Box Turtle (Pyxidea mouhotii).

Asian box turtle example
The Keeled Box Turtle is less aquatic than the other Asian box turtle species and is instead found in semi-moist habitats. It appreciates densely grown environments where it is easy to find cover. The name Keeled Boxed Turtle is derived from the characteristic keel that runs lengthwise down the centre of the yellow coloured shell. The Keeled Boxed Turtle can grow up to 7 inches in length and have dark limbs and a dark head. It is an omnivorous species native to India, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma and the Hainan province in China.

North American box turtle species
All North American box turtle species belong to the genera Terrapene. There names are Coahuilan Box Turtle (Terrapene coahuila), Spotted Box Turtle (Terrapene nelsoni), Terrapene carolina and Terrapene ornata.

The species named Terrapene ornate is divided into two subspecies: Desert Box Turtle (Terrapene ornata luteola) and Ornate Box Turtle (Terrapene ornata ornata).

The species named Terrapene carolina is further divided into six subspecies: Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina), Florida Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina bauri), Gulf Coast Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina major), Mexican Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina mexicana), Yucatan Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina yucatana) and Three-toed Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina triunguis).

North American box turtle example
One example of a North American box turtle is the Three-toed Box Turtle. This subspecies will usually have no more than three toes on each of its hind-feet, hence the name. Occasional specimens are however born with four toes on each hind-foot. This box turtle lives in the south-central parts of the U.S., from eastern Texas to the Florida Panhandle. The northernmost specimens inhabit Missouri and the habitat proceeds southward all the way down to Louisiana. The Three-toed Box Turtle is a highly popular pet and can therefore sometimes be found living outside its native range, since turtles sometimes run away or are intentionally released into the wild.  

Box Turtle Articles:

Box Turtle Care
Box Turtle Habitat
Eastern Box Turtle


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