We all know that turtles and tortoises have one of the best defense mechanisms; hiding the body inside the shells. However, have you ever come across a turtle that will zip its entire shell like a box?
Well, we have found one species of turtle today that can close up their shells and protect themselves from predators. Do you and your little one want to know more about these box turtles? In that case, we have listed out 11 amazing box turtles facts for kids that will surely make your day!
11 Interesting & Fun Facts about Box Turtles for Kids
Box turtles are native to the countries of the United States of America and Mexico. They can be easily recognised by their doomed shell that has a hinge at the back that allows it to close itself up.
With that introduction out of the way, let us get into some of the most interesting facts about the box turtles.
1. The name Box Turtle is because their shells work in a unique way
One question that might pop into your head is that why these turtles are called as Box turtles. Well, the reason is pretty straightforward. It is because of the way their shells function.
We all know that turtles hide inside their shells in case they sense danger. What makes the box turtles unique is their ability to completely close up their shells like a box. They have a hinged belly that allows them to close up so tightly that even an ant cannot get into it.
2. The shells of these turtles keep growing
The shells of box turtles and turtles, in general, have shells that keep growing. Throughout their lives, the shells of box turtles keep growing in size.
In fact, if the shell is injured, it is possible for them to re-grow it. This is because they use keratin, the same compound found in our hair, to keep growing.
3. These animals have a very strong home instinct
When it comes to box turtles, they love to spend most of their time in one place. They have a very strong ‘home instinct’ and will most definitely find their way back to their home base.
These turtles travel for about fifty-five yards in a day and will find their way back to their areas. This happens if they are not taken too far away from their territory. It has been found that a box turtle will live for fifty years (all its life) in one place.
4. They are not territorial in nature
Knowing that box turtles have a strong home instinct, one might think that they are territorial in nature. However, that is not the case.
These are social animals that live in areas that overlap other box turtles’ territories. It has been found that three or four box turtles living in the same range, that too, peacefully.
5. They live for 40 or 50 years
This might come as a bit of a surprise. Usually we know that turtles and tortoises live for a really long time. But that is not the usual case for these turtles.
Most of them live till the age of 40 or 50 years. They do not reach their maximum size until they are almost twenty years old. However, there have been exceptional cases where, in captivity, these turtles have lived until 100 years.
6. Box turtles value their privacy a lot
Box turtles like to value their privacy in the wild. They are often found hiding in logs and bushes. They will even burrow into the sand or mud. This is a behaviour that is also seen when they are trying to escape the heat of the sun.
Usually, during the winters, due to the scarcity of food, box turtles will hibernate.
7. Box turtles are opportunistic omnivores
These little guys will eat anything that will come their way. They are omnivores which mean that they will eat both plants and the meat of smaller creatures.
They are known to eat slugs, insects, berries, grass or even fungi. They have been occasionally known to even eat live birds while scavenging.
8. Box turtles are early risers
Box turtles are diurnal animals and are early risers. This is because; they cannot tolerate the extreme heat during the hottest part of the day and love spending that time in the mud.
One is most likely to find the box turtles to be most active in the mornings and after rainfall during summers. During spring and fall, they are active throughout the day.
9. They can be a tad bit dangerous for human beings
You might be wondering how these little cute creatures can be remotely dangerous to human beings. That is because; these turtles love to eat poisonous mushrooms. They are able to retain the toxins in their bodies and this might lead to inducing poison in human beings.
10. Racoons are one of the biggest predators of box turtles
While the shell of box turtles is indeed really hard and protects the animal from predators, it does not harden for the first few months after their births.
This is the time when they tend to fall prey to animals like raccoons that prefer to eat the eggs or the newly hatched turtles. They often eat the hibernating adults as well. To protect itself, the turtle will seal the shell completely and once the limbs are protected, can snap out with its head at the predator!
Want to know some interesting fun facts about Raccoons, read our article: 11 Amazing Raccoons Facts for Kids
11. These animals are unfortunately threatened
The box turtles have been victim to several hits by cars. As strong as the shells might be, they cannot stand the pressure of being hit by a car.
Additionally, due to the loss of habitat and illegal retaining of these creatures, they are now on the endangered list. Often humans pick them up from their habitat and release them elsewhere. Due to their ‘home instinct’, the turtles keep wandering aimlessly till they die.
Different Types of Box Turtles
So far, there have been four recognized species of box turtles. Although there are subspecies of the four are present, we have listed the four broader categories below-
- Common box turtles: This is, as the name suggests, one of the most common and prominent box turtles species in Northern America. Its various subspecies consist of the Eastern, Florida, Gulf Coast, Three-toed, and Mexican box turtles.
- Spotted box turtles: As the name suggests, these turtles have tiny spots all over their shells. These species have not been very well studied and there are only two subspecies known- Northern and Southern box turtles.
- Coahuilan box turtles: These creatures are also known as Aquatic box turtles and are found in Mexico.
- Western box turtles: These species have a less doomed shaped shell and looks a lot flatter than the other box turtles. These creatures have two subspecies- Ornate box turtle and Desert box turtle.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The usual difference between a tortoise and a turtle is where they live; tortoises typically live on land and turtles are usually in water. But box turtles do not spend a lot of time in deep water, so they are often called as tortoises.
Box turtles are generally called box turtles as they are able to zip up their shells with a hinge like a box.
Not exactly; box turtles spend a lot of time on land or in shallow fresh water.
The scientific name of Box turtles is Terrapene carolina.
Box turtles are omnivores and eat fungi, grass, insects or even berries.
Yes, box turtles sometimes do eat frogs if they are given a chance.
Box turtles usually eat two or three times a week.
Yes, box turtles do need water for drinking and soaking.
Box turtles can go without food for at least 160 days.
Usually, a box turtle will weigh anywhere between 10 to 18 ounces.
Yes, box turtles indeed burrow through mud to escape from extreme heat.
Box turtles generally live in marshes, pastures, and meadows in temperate woodlands.
No, box turtles cannot live in deep water although they do spend time in shallow water.
Box turtles can be as big as 5 to 6 inches.
Box turtles can live up to 40 to 50 years on average.
Yes, box turtles do hibernate during the winters.
Box turtles come out of hibernation after the winter passes and the temperature slowly starts getting warmer.
Usually, box turtles hibernate underground during the winters.
One can tell the age of a box turtle by counting the number of rings on the shell.
In a day, box turtles travel about 55 yards a day.
No, box turtles are not nocturnal, they are diurnal creatures.
That was it, folks! You have come to the end of the article, ’11 Amazing Box Turtle Facts for Kids.’ Hopefully, you had a great time learning about these fascinating creatures. These are endangered creatures and hence, it is advisable to not try to get them as pets. Have a great day ahead!