The eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) is a small 4.5- to 7-inch terrestrial turtle with a highly domed shell and variable patterning. Color patterns of the carapace typically consist of irregular yellow or orange markings over a brown or black base. The skin is uniformly dark with yellow or orange markings. They use a variety of dry and moist upland habitats. Females excavate nests in the summer in loose, loamy soil in open areas. Winter hibernation usually occurs under soil, decaying vegetation, or mammal burrows in forests. They are long-lived turtles with delayed sexual maturity, which makes them vulnerable to increases in mortality. Threats include development of upland habitat, mortality from vehicles on roadways, OHRV activity, commercial or casual collection, and agricultural and logging equipment. It is listed as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in four states in BCR 14.

Habitat Needs

Eastern box turtles are terrestrial generalists, using habitats such as mesic forests, xeric uplands, open woodlands, pastures, old fields, thickets and power-line corridors. Openings in forest canopy and forest and field edges are important for basking. They will also make use of wetlands, streams or seepages for thermal refuge and foraging.

Habitat Management Practices

In areas where Eastern box turtles are known or predicted to occur, schedule forestry, power-line, brush-hog and bronto activities during their inactive season from November 1st to April 1st.

To reduce haying or mowing-related mortality, use sickle bar mowers with a height of greater than 6 inches instead of rotary blade mowers.


Erb, L. and M. T. Jones. 2011. Can turtle mortality be reduced in managed fields? Northeastern Naturalist. 18(4):489-496.

Marchand, M. 2015. Eastern Box Turtle. Pages A96-A102 in the New Hampshire Wildlife Action Plan, NH Fish & Game Department, Concord, NH.

Additional Information