Become a Citizen Scientist!
Join our Turtle Trekkers:
A Box Turtle Neighborhood Watch
Eastern Box Turtle populations are in decline in North Carolina and we need your help to figure out why! Box turtles are recognized as a threatened species by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), but have no protection in North Carolina.
Piedmont Wildlife Center has been studying box turtles since 2009, and is interested in gathering more data about box turtles in urban settings. That’s where you come in! We need your help to find where the turtles are living, and if they are moving within your neighborhood, business complex, or other location.
Each box turtle has a unique pattern and we can identify if an individual is returning to your yard year after year, or being found by your neighbors!
What is a citizen scientist?
- Any volunteer, who may or may not have any scientific training, that helps gather information for scientific study.
How you can help us save Eastern Box Turtles?
If you find a LIVE or DEAD Box Turtle in your backyard or anywhere else you can help! All you have to do is:
- Take 3 pictures in a row of the top of the shell, from directly above. Also take one photo of the bottom of the shell, from directly below. A carpenter’s square, 2 rulers, or other METRIC ruler will work for photos. We need to know what size the turtle is for our photo ID app! If you can include a label in the photograph with a turtle number, address, and date (as shown by the slip of paper) it’s helpful, but not necessary.
- Send the pictures and your address (or GPS location) to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Fill out the data sheet, found HERE.
- Record your information in the Carolina Herp Atlas. You need to register to submit your data. Also note that the genus and species name for the Eastern Box Turtle is Terrapene carolina.
If you don’t want to take this extra step, just let us know and we’ll enter it in for you
- Please return the turtle to the same location where you found it as soon as possible. Turtles (and other wildlife) should never be relocated. Turtles have an internal map in their brain of their home, and when moved outside of their home, they spend the rest of their lives trying to return. They will encounter more predators (including roads), and won’t know where to find food or water. We need our wild turtles to stay wild for future generations! Please do not harass turtles that are mating or laying eggs.
- Want to get more involved? Become a Neighborhood Watch Leader! E-mail email@example.com for more information.
Did You Know?
Each box turtle has it’s own unique markings, as you can see from these pictures:
Do you know how to identify an Eastern Box Turtle from other turtles?
- They will be found on land – the only terrestrial turtle in the United States! Occasionally they can be found in swampy areas, especially during extreme heat.
- Box turtles have a hinged shell, so they can completely close up inside of it.
- They have a similar pattern to the photos above.
- They have clawed feet – not webbed, since they use their legs for digging in dirt instead of swimming.