The Box Turtle Connection
Help! I found a Box Turtle! Now what?
A few important things after finding a box turtle.
1. Are you sure it’s a box turtle?
A. Does it look similar to these? Patterns may vary, but they should have clawed feet (not as webbed as aquatic turtles), and should be able to close up in their shell, even if they aren’t doing so when you find them.
2. Where did you find it?
A. On a road – If the turtle is not injured, simply place it on the side of the road where it was headed.
B. In a parking lot – If the turtle is not injured, simply place it on the side of the parking lot where it was headed. If not headed in a specific direction, place it in an area (with grass or brush) where it can escape from cars and the heat.
C. In my yard – Great! You can help with our citizen science project.
D. In a pond – Box turtles are terrestrial (land-dwelling) animals. If found in a pond, they likely need help getting out since they are not as adept at swimming as our aquatic turtles. They occasionally stay cool by sitting in stream beds in the summer.
E. Somewhere else – Where was it?
3. Does it appear to be healthy?
A. Any broken bones or damaged shell?
B. Discharge from ears or nose?
D. If there are any health problems, please call WildNet: 919-572-9453 for further instructions. There are a few reptile rehabilitators in the Triangle, as well as the Turtle Team at NCSU.
E. No health problems.
4. Where is it now?
A. The best place for a box turtle is in the wild! If the turtle is not injured, place it back where you found it (or the nearest safest place). Box turtles have a very specific place they live, called a home range. They know where all the food, water, shelter, and other turtles are in their home range. They also have a strong homing sense. If you remove them from this area, they will spend the rest of their life trying to return and are likely to get hit by a car or starve to death.Box turtle populations are also declining, and to prevent these beautiful creatures from becoming endangered they need to stay in the wild. Turning them into pets only brings them closer to endangerment and possible extinction.