Box Turtles in the Wild

The Status of Box Turtles in the Wild

The Status of Box TurtlesThe Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) is not considered Endangered or Threatened or a Species of Special Concern in North Carolina. They are, however, thought to be in serious decline throughout their range, though in some areas they may seen common. Even those who don’t think about Box Turtles much acknowledge that they don’t see them as often as they once did. More and more young people report that they have never seen a Box Turtle, when only a few decades ago everyone in North Carolina would have had a least a few experiences with them at an early age while tromping around in the woods.

Box Turtles have a life span similar to humans. Scientists think that they maintain the ability to reproduce throughout their lives and may need a half a century or more to replace themselves in the population. Turtles are likely not living as long as they once did because of road mortality and habitat destruction. Also, when found on roads, well meaning people move them to places they think are better for them rather than simply placing them on the side of the road where they were headed. When moved, turtles may spend the rest of their lives trying to get back to the place they were moved from.

In the NC Wildlife Commission’s Wildlife Action Plan, Box Turtles have been identified a Priority Species in North Carolina. Globally they are considered Threatened on the IUCN Red List.

You can help Box Turtles by moving them from the road but not taking them away from their home. Let your family and friends know that Box Turtles are in trouble. Join a conservation group that works for habitat protection.