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Where do box turtles go in the winter?

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Box turtles are popular pets, but what do they look like in the wild? It turns out that there are more than twenty species of box turtles. These various reptiles are present in North America and Asia, with as many differences as similarities.

Have you ever wondered what happens when winter comes? reptiles do not generate body heat independently and depend on heat from the sun. Some areas never dip below 60°F, but others dip well below freezing for several weeks at a time.

Key points

  • Even though they look and behave more like the earth turtleNorth American box turtles are more closely related to pond turtles.
  • Asian box turtles are diverse, with different habitats and diets.
  • Younger North American Box turtles can be more carnivorous than older individuals.

What is a box turtle

box turtle
Box turtles have dome-shaped carapaces that range in dome height from low to high.

© Jeffs

The term “box turtle” applies to more than 20 turtle species. It can refer to one of more than a dozen species in Asia and one of many species in North America.

Generally, box turtles have dome-shaped carapaces that range in dome height from low to high. turtles can be omnivorous, carnivorous or herbivorous; Some species change their food preferences as they grow.

North American box turtles

North American box turtle
North American box turtles have domed shells that hinge at the bottom.


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Although they share many similarities with turtles, these reptiles are most closely related to American tortoises. box turtles North America have domed shells that hinge at the bottom. Their carapace design allows them to pull their legs and heads all the way inside their carapaces and close them to prevent predation.

These turtles are omnivorous and have excellent eyesight. They feed by sight and spot snails, insects, mushrooms, slugs, berries, worms, flowers, frogs, fish, salamanders, rodents, birds, snakes and eggs. North American box turtles have also been known to feed on roadside carrion, sometimes resulting in injury or death of the turtle by a vehicle.

Young box turtles need more protein than adults. They are primarily carnivorous during their first six years, over time becoming more herbivorous. Even in adulthood, these the reptiles will eat almost anything the occasion presents.

North American Box Turtle Species:

  • common box turtle (Terrapene carolina) It includes four common box turtle subspecies that inhabit many parts of the eastern United States.
  • three-toed box turtle (Terrapene triunguis)
  • Coahuilan box turtle (Terrapene coahuila)
  • Mexican box turtle (Terrapene Mexicana)
  • Spotted box turtle (Terrapene Nelson) has two subspecies.
  • Western box turtle (Terrapene ornata) also has two subspecies.
  • Yucatan box turtle (Terrapene yucatana)

Asian box turtles

chinese box turtle
Asian species generally have brighter colors on their bodies, and many have stripes on either side of their heads.


Today there are a dozen species of Asian box turtles, plus a few ancient extinct species. Asian species generally have brighter colors on their bodies, and many have stripes on either side of their heads. Their shells typically have three keels, and their shells are often more colorful than their North American counterparts.

Many of these turtles spend their time at the edge of streams, shallow swamps or densely vegetated ponds. Their dietary needs are also varied, and while most are omnivorous, some are carnivorous.

Most Asian box turtles are found in Cuora genus, but the keeled box turtle is sometimes separated into pyxis as the only species of the genus.

Among the species of Asian box turtles, there are several beautiful box turtles:

  • Amboyna box turtle (Cuora amboinensis) with four subspecies
  • Yellow-headed box turtle (Cuora aurocapitata)
  • Bourret’s box turtle (Cuora stuffed)
  • Vietnamese three-banded box turtle (Cuora cyclornata)
  • chinese box turtle (Cuora flavomarginata) and its two subspecies
  • McCord’s box turtle (Cuora McCordi)
  • golden coin box turtle (Cuora trifasciata)

Where can you see a box turtle

North America is residence to about seven species of box turtles and at least six subspecies. Members of the genus Terrapene inhabit many regions of United States and Mexico, going as far south as the Yucatan Peninsula.

Their habitats range from forests to the edges of swamps to deserts. Box turtles are more common in the American Southeast than in other regions, but can be found as far west as Arizona.

These turtles are sensitive and easily stressed. They don’t stray more than half a mile from where they hatch. If someone moves it from this location, a box turtle can spend the rest of its life trying to get back. Something so small can completely disrupt the turtle’s reproductive cycle and overall health.

Asian box turtles are widespread from China in the Philippines, throughout Southeast Asia, northern India and Bhutan. Some are more common than others. Despite widespread protections for Asian box turtles combined with breeding facilities, they are still captured and sold for food. According to Cuora.org10 out of 13 Cuora Species of the genus are threatened with extinction.

Their habitats are much more varied than their North American cousins. Asian box turtles range from being entirely terrestrial to primarily aquatic, and everything in between. These turtles often inhabit marshy areas at the edge of swamps. Some of them are mostly aquatic, so they won’t stray far from the water. Either way, they all stay pretty close to one water supply.

Box turtles aren’t the most adventurous and don’t handle the stress of moving or capturing well. If you want one as a pet, your best bet is to find a captive breeder. animal.

What is brumation?

The short answer, brumation is the reptile version of hibernation in mammals. Although the terms are used interchangeably with a reptile, brumation is technically a bit different in reptiles. Most reptiles use glycogen stores to sustain themselves during brumation instead of fat stores; These are used more in breeding than in brumation. Mammalson the other hand, use fat reserves.

The interesting thing about using glycogen is that it is a natural antifreeze. This is what allows some reptiles amphibious species to survive being frozen solid during the winter.

Like other reptiles, box turtles are ectothermic and must maintain body temperature when moving to and from warm places. Whether it’s a North American or Asian box turtle, both groups brum if certain conditions are met:

  • Daylight hours are decreasing.
  • Average temperatures drop below their body’s ability to function.

How do box turtles deal with the cold?

Box turtles in some areas may never need to mist; from South Florida and Southeast Asia are two prime examples. Temperatures in these regions may never drop far enough for the turtles’ bodies to feel the need for a long nap. However, those located in more northern regions at least slow down, if not completely cease their activity when the weather turns cold.

There is a danger in brumation, however. If the box the turtle did not eat enough During the warmer months, he probably doesn’t have enough stored glycogen to sustain his body through a long nap. In this case, the turtle’s body will instead cannibalize fat, muscle and, in extreme cases, its internal organs.

How you can help

If you live where it is cold enough for box turtles to mist they usually only need a spot with loose soil and a few leaves to bury themselves under. So it helps to drop some of the fall leaves instead of raking them all in. The more aquatic Asian species often want to bury themselves under mud or water. Here are some additional tips:

  • Do not move it from its housing.
  • If you see one on the street, help it cross the road in the same direction it was heading.
  • Don’t help them by bringing them home. It’s not helpful and it can cause more stress than they can handle.
  • If he is injured, mark his location with the GPS and call a rescue party. They have the resources to help.

Wild box turtles are best left to their own devices, and what we perceive to be useful can easily kill them.