EASTERN BOX TURTLE
Terrapene carolina (Agassiz 1857)
tĕr-ŭh-pē-nē — kă-rə-'lī-nə


Conservation Status:

State: None

Federal: None
NatureServe State: S4 - Apparently Secure
NatureServe National: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Global: G5 - Secure
CITES: Appendix II

An adult Eastern Box Turtle from Johnson County, Kansas. © Jeff Witters.
An adult Eastern Box Turtle from Allen County, Kansas. © Meredith Dewey Friederich.
An adult Eastern Box Turtle from Bourbon County. © Jason Burns.
Eastern Box Turtle. Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
An adult Eastern Box Turtle from Allen County, Kansas. © Travis W. Taggart.
The plastron of an adult Eastern Box Turtle from Coffey County, KS. © Don Eccles.
Plastron of an Eastern Box Turtle from Chisholm Creek Park, Sedgwick County, KS. Image © Ryan Philbrick.
An Eastern Box Turtle from Chisholm Creek Park, Sedgwick County, KS. Image © Ryan Philbrick
An adult Eastern Box Turtle from Coffey County, KS. © Don Eccles.

Description:
Eastern Box Turtles in Kansas, typically have three toes on their hind feet. However, 4-toed examples do show up occasionally. The highest part of its carapace or upper shell is more posteriorly positioned than in the other subspecies. The dorsal and limb coloration may be uniformly olive with some dark blotches in adult turtles. More often, the carapace will possess faint yellow radiating dots or lines on each large scute. In the males, the head, throat, and forelegs often display bright yellow, red, or orange spots. The plastron is a light yellow to tan with the sutures between scutes appearing a darker brown.
Adults normally 113- 150 mm (4 1/2-6 inches) in carapace length; largest specimen from Kansas: female (KU 218958) from Wyandotte County with a carapace length of 179 mm (7 inches), collected by Tom Sullivan and Stanley D. Roth on 1 June 1989; maximum carapace length throughout the range: 8½ inches (Conant and Collins, 1998).

Distribution:
Older records in Collins (1993) from Coffey County (KU 3017-20) are too imprecise to map, however, recent photographs turned in by Don Eccles lend support that this turtle may still exist there. Collins (1993) did not plot a 1912 record (USNM 55588) from Marion County and a 1925 record (KU 1918) from Stafford County. Both records are given to the county only and are therefore too imprecise to map. He also did not plot records for Riley and Pottawatomie counties. All of these records are in need of corroboration. Pleistocene fossil specimens are known from as far west as McPherson and Meade counties, indicating the possibility of local relict populations existing in suitable habitat along the major drainages into the Flint Hills. A specimen (KU 1918) from Stafford County listed in Collins (1974) was reidentified as Terrapene ornata prior to Collins (1982).
(, Museum Voucher) (, Observation) (, Literature Record)
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  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 281
    Records 
  • 229
    Museum Vouchers 
  • 52
    Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Allen (6); Bourbon (24); Butler (1); Chautauqua (10); Cherokee (113); Coffey (5); Cowley (4); Crawford (20); Douglas (4); Elk (3); Franklin (2); Greenwood (2); Johnson (3); Labette (13); Leavenworth (1); Linn (3); Marion (1); Miami (2); Montgomery (27); Neosho (12); Pottawatomie (1); Riley (1); Sedgwick (2); Shawnee (1); Sumner (1); Unknown (9); Wilson (5); Woodson (1); Wyandotte (4);

Natural History:
The Eastern Box Turtle is predominantly a woodland species and is restricted to eastern Kansas south of the Kansas River basin. Individual Eastern Box Turtles are commonly collected as pets and released outside of their range.
Their activity is driven by humidity, with most movements occurring after rainfall.
Although primarily terrestrial, Eastern Box Turtles can occasionally be found soaking in shallow pools. They have also been observed swimming across rivers and reservoirs. Eastern Box Turtles are omnivorous, eating mushrooms, berries, invertebrates, and vertebrate carrion.

Occurrence Activity:
White dates indicate there is at least a single recorded occurrence on that date. The darker blue a date is, the greater the relative number of observations for that date.
Observation Type: (of recorded types)
Remarks:
Martin et al. (2013) found support for a western (including triunguis, mexicana, and yucatana) and an eastern group (carolina, baurii, and major, plus coahuila) within T. carolina. They recommended that the former be elevated to species status (T. mexicana, the oldest name) with three subspecies (including Kansas triunguis). However, Fritz and Havas (2014) argued against the recognition of mexicana (including triunguis) as a separate species because of demonstrated genetic introgression between triunguis and carolina. Nevertheless, because interspecific hybridization is known between many other closely related turtle species, Martin et al. (2014) reaffirmed their support for recognizing mexicana (including triunguis from Kansas) and carolina as separate species.
The taxonomy vetted by the SSAR Standardized English Names list serves as the framework for the Kansas Herpetofaunal Atlas. Their turtle committee failed to recognized triunguis within mexicana and the KHA has followed their lead.
Turtle races featuring Eastern and Ornate Box Turtles are common community and organizational events across Kansas. And while typically well-meaning, the turtles are often held w/o access to food, water, or cover prior to these events. Eastern Box Turtles are long-lived and develop definite home ranges. Every effort should be made to return each Eastern Box Turtle to the point it was captured, or they will likely not survive the following winter.
Eastern Box Turtles are not listed as species with conservation concerns and have no special protections in Kansas. The Eastern Box Turtle is listed by the two worldwide conservation ranking indicators; IUCN Red List ('near threatened') and CITES (Appendix II; not necessarily now threatened with extinction but that may become so unless trade is closely controlled).
The conversion/loss of habitat has had the greatest effect on the Eastern Box Turtle populations in Kansas. Currently, automobiles are a leading cause of Eastern Box Turtle mortality when their home range overlaps with highways and many thousands of adult Eastern Box Turtle are crushed on Kansas roadways every year. Slow maturity to reproductive age and high mortality of juveniles (through natural causes) may also contribute to the recovery of the Eastern Box Turtle populations.
Populations in Kansas appear to be stable.
There are currently 138 'turtle races' conducted annually across Kansas (Alex Heeb pers. comm.). These are typically conducted in conjunction with fairs and festivals. Eastern and Ornate Box Turtles are the most commonly utilized species, however, it is not uncommon to have Spiny Softshells, Painted Turtles, Pond Slider, Common Snapping Turtles, and even False and Ouachita Map Turtles. This is a plea for these events and their participants to ensure that the turtles are not held captive for long periods leading up to the event, kept safe, sanitary, and appropriately fed while in captivity, and released at the point of capture soon after the event. Box Turtles are long-lived and adults have established home ranges. Tracking studies have shown that releasing Box Turtles into a new environment greatly increases their mortality.

Bibliography:
1907 Ditmars, Raymond L. The Reptile Book; A comprehensive, Popularised Work on the Structure and Habits of the Turtles, Tortoises, Crocodilians, Lizards and Snakes which Inhabit the United States and Northern Mexico. Doubleday, Pae, and Company, New York. 472pp.
1928 Burt, Charles E. Some distributional and ecological records of Kansas reptiles. Transactions of the Academy of Science St. Louis 26():186-208
1932 Gloyd, Howard K. The herpetological fauna of the Pigeon Lake Region, Miami County, Kansas. Papers of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan 15():389-408
1933 Stejneger, Leonhard and Thomas Barbour. A Checklist of North American Amphibians and Reptiles. 3rd Edition. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. pp.
1934 Burt, Charles E. and W. L. Hoyle. Additional records of the reptiles of the central prairie region of the United States. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 37():193-216
1935 Burt, Charles E. and William L. Hoyle. Additional records of the reptiles of the central prairie region of the United States Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 37():193-216
1950 Smith, Hobart M. Handbook of Amphibians and Reptiles of Kansas. University of Kansas, Museum of Natural History, Miscellaneous Publication (2):336
1953 Schmidt, Karl P. A Check List of North American Amphibians and Reptiles. 6th Edition. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois. 280pp.
1956 Clarke, Robert F. Identification of Kansas turtles. Kansas School Naturalist 2(4):1-3
1956 Clarke, Robert F. Turtles in Kansas. Kansas School Naturalist 2(4):1-15
1956 Loomis, Richard B. The chigger mites of Kansas (Acarina, Trombiculidae). University of Kansas Science Bulletin 37():1195-1443
1974 Collins, Joseph T. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Public Education Series (1):283 pp
1974 Karns, Daryl, Ray E. Ashton, Jr., and Thomas Swearingen. Illustrated Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas: An Identification Manual. University of Kansas Publications Museum of Natural History Public Education Series(2):viii + 18
1975 Holman, J. Alan. Herpetofauna of the WaKeeney local fauna (Lower Pliocene: Clarendionian) of Trego County, Kansas. Papers on Paleontology, University of Michigan 1974(12):49-66
1976 Grow, David. The KHS goes to Chetopa. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (13):2-3
1976 Rundquist, Eric M. Field checklist (of) amphibians and reptiles of Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society, Lawrence. pp.
1977 Perry, Janice. KHS members achieve goal: Get Cottonmouth. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (21):3-4
1978 Perry, Janice. KHS successful at Miami County State Lake. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (27):5
1979 Gray, Peter and Eddie Stegall. A field trip to the Red Hills. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (29):6-8
1982 Collins, Joseph T. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas. 2nd edition. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Public Education Series (8):
1982 Collins, Joseph T. Report to the Kansas Fish and Game Commission on the status of three amphibians in southeastern Kansas. Kansas Fish and Game Commission, Pratt. 57pp.
1983 Collins, Joseph T. New records of fishes, amphibians, and reptiles in Kansas for 1982 . Technical Publication of the State Biological Survey of Kansas 13():9-21
1983 Miller, Larry L. Bourbon County field trip well attended and successful. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (54):6-7
1987 Capron, Marty. Selected observations on south-central Kansas turtles Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (67):13-15
1988 Capron, Marty. Observations on box turtles, genus Terrapene, in captivity. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (72):17-19
1988 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1987. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (71):13-19
1989 Collins, Joseph T. First Kansas herp counts held in 1989. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (77):11-
1989 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1988. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (75):15-18
1989 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1989. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (78):16-21
1990 Collins, Joseph T. Maximum size records for Kansas amphibians and reptiles. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (81):13-17
1991 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1990. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (83):7-13
1991 Conant, Roger and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. 3rd ed. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. pp.
1991 Ernst, Carl H. Terrapene carolina. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (512):1-13
1991 Ernst, Carl H. Terrapene. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (511):1-6
1991 Fitch, Henry S. Reptiles and amphibians of the Kansas ecological reserves. Pages 71-74 in Multidisciplinary Guidebook 4. Kansas Academy of Science, Lawrence. pp.
1992 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1991. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (87):12-17
1993 Collins, Joseph T. and Suzanne L. Collins. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas. Third Edition. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Lawrence. 397pp.
1994 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1993. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (97):15-19
1994 Riedle, J. Daren. A survey of reptiles and amphibians at Montgomery County State Fishing Lake. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (98):11-13
1994 Rundquist, Eric M. Results of the sixth annual KHS herp counts held 1 April-31 May 1994. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (97):5-14
1996 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1995. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (103):13-15
1996 Rakestraw, J. Spring herp counts: A Kansas tradition. Reptile & Amphibian Magazine (March-April):75-80
1996 Rundquist, Eric M. Notes on the natural history of some Kansas amphibians and reptiles: Parasites. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (105):16-17
1996 Rundquist, Eric M. Results of the eighth annual KHS herp counts Held 1 April-31 May 1996. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (104):6-17
1997 Collins, Joseph T. A report on the KHS fall field trip to the Marais des Cygnes wildlife refuges. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (110):2-3
1997 Rundquist, Eric M. Results of the ninth annual KHS herp counts held 1 April-31 May 1997. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (108):12-17
1998 Conant, Roger and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. 3rd ed, expanded. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. pp.
1998 Gamble, Jerre Marais des Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Hartford, Kansas. 91pp.
1998 Rundquist, Eric M. Results of the tenth annual KHS herp counts for 1998, held 1 April-31 May. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (112):11-18
1999 Rundquist, Eric M. Kansas Herpetological Society herp counts: A 10 year summary and evaluation. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (115):42962
1999 Taggart, Travis W. Cherokee County fall 1999 herp count. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (117):6
2000 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2000 fall field trip. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (122):6-8
2001 Rundquist, Eric M. Results of the thirteenth annual KHS herp counts for 2001, held 1 April-30 June. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (125):13-16
2001 Taggart, Travis W. The KHS 2001 spring field trip: A rainy rendezvous. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (124):12-14
2002 Kingsbury, Bruce and Joanna Gibson. Habitat Management Guidelines for Amphibians and Reptiles of the Midwest. Publication of Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Address not given. 152pp.
2002 Riedle, J. Daren and A. Hynek. Amphibian and reptile inventory of the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant, Labette County, Kansas. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (2):18-20
2003 Taggart, Travis W. KHS conducts first systematic road survey. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (6):11-12
2003 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the 2003 KHS spring field trip to Wilson County. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (6):2-5
2004 Daniel, James K. Cherokee County herp count. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (11):10
2005 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2005 fall field trip [to Crawford County]. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (16):19-21
2006 Taggart, Travis W. Distribution and status of Kansas herpetofauna in need of information. State Wildlife Grant T7. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt. vii + 106pp.
2010 Collins, Joseph T., Suzanne L. Collins, and Travis W. Taggart. Amphibians, Reptiles, and Turtles of Kansas Eagle Mountain Publishing., Provo, Utah. 400pp.
2010 Murrow, Daniel G. Kansas Herpetological Society spring field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (33):2-3
2011 Taggart, Travis W. Kansas Herpetological Society 2011 spring field trip to beheld in Chautauqua County. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (37):5-7
2011 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS Spring Field Trip to Chautauqua County. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (38):2-4
2012 Rohweder, Megan R. Spatial conservation prioritization of Kansas for terrestrial vertebrates. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 151pp.
2013 Martin, Bradley T., Neil P.Bernstein, Roger D.Birkhead, Jim F.Koukl, Steven M.Mussmann, and John S. Placyk Jr. Sequence-based molecular phylogenetics and phylogeography ofthe American box turtles (Terrapene spp.) with support from DNA barcoding. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 68():119-134
2013 Taggart, Travis W. KHS 2012 Spring Field Trip to Bourbon County State Lake. Collinsorum 2(3/4):3
2013 Taggart, Travis W. KHS 2013 Spring Field Trip to Schermerhorn Park, Cherokee County. Collinsorum 2(3/4):4
2014 Fritz, Uwe and Peter Havas. On the reclassification of Box Turtles (Terrapene): A response to Martin et al. (2014). Zootaxa (3835):295–298
2014 Martin, Bradley T., Neil P. Bernstein , Roger D. Birkhead, Jim F. Koukl , Steven M. Mussmann and John S. Placyk, Jr. On the Reclassification of the Terrapene (Testudines: Emydidae): A Response to Fritz & Havaš. Zootaxa (3835):292–294
2014 McMartin, D. Chris. Fort Leavenworth Heretofaunal Survey for 2013. Collinsorum 3(1):10
2014 Taggart, Travis W. Recent scientific and standard English name changes effecting the Kansas herpetofauna. Collinsorum 3(2-4):9-10
2014 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the 2014 KHS Fall Field Trip to Woodson County. Collinsorum 3(2-4):12
2016 Powell, Robert, Roger Conant, and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston. 494pp.
2016 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS Summer field trip to Caney River, Chautauqua County, Kansas. Collinsorum 5(2-3):4-5
2017 Mardis, Dexter R. Results from three Herpetofaunal tallies at Wichita State University’s Youngmeyer Ranch in Northwestern Elk County. Collinsorum 6(1):8-10
2017 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the 2017 KHS Spring Field Trip to Elk County, Kansas. Collinsorum 6(2-3):6-8
2017 Taggart, Travis W. and J. Daren Riedle. A Pocket Guide to Kansas Amphibians, Turtles and Lizards. Great Plains Nature Center, Wichita, Kansas. 69pp.
2019 Riedle, J. Daren. Conservation conversations: Coming at you like a herd of turtles. Kansas Wildlife and Parks Magazine July/August():15
2020 Riedle, J. Daren. Revisiting Kansas Herpetological Society field trip and Herp Count data: Distributional patterns and trend data of Kansas amphibians and reptiles. Collinsorum 9(1):7-16
Account Last Updated:
7/30/2020 9:09:56 AM