Eastern Box Turtle: here’s the scoop


Box turtles experienced a surge of exploitation for the pet trade in the 1980’s and 1990’s which has since ceased after they were included in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Current threats include habitat loss and degradation, pesticides, vehicle strikes and climate change.

Committed to Conservation

Tilly, the box turtle, is an important member of the Zoo’s Animal Ambassador Program and currently lives behind-the-scenes. You may see her out with educators for encounters, special events or school programs. The animal ambassadors at Buttonwood Park Zoo are working ambassadors of their species and of their wild counterparts.  They stimulate interest and appreciation, dispel myths and fears, reconnect visitors with the natural world and stir all those they encounter to action. 


Eastern Box Turtle

Scientific name

Terrapene carolina


Variety of habitats including open broadleaf forests, field-forest edges, shrubby grasslands, marshy meadows, stream valleys, palmetto thickets and other vegetation types


Omnivorous. Feeding on mushrooms, plant stems, leaves, flowers, fruits, eggs, slugs, snails, earthworms, and carrion

Life Expectancy

35 – 50 years, but they have been known to survive over 100 years!

Did you know?

Box turtles have a homing instinct, or an innate ability to navigate to a “home base”, despite being in an unfamiliar area. This helps box turtles find their way back home, but can also be detrimental when they are removed from their home range. Eastern box turtles are a protected species and it is illegal to interfere with them.


Occurs throughout North America south of the Great Lakes and east of the Rocky Mountains, from southern Ontario, Canada, south to the Florida Keys and Texas, as well as Northeastern Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula

Conservation status


Likely to become endangered unless circumstances improve