Box Turtles

The charismatic Eastern Box Turtle, Terrapene carolina carolina, has become a species of concern throughout much of it's range. Needing large tracts of intact forest to complete it's lifecycle, there are fewer and fewer places that can support healthy populations. Additionally, roadway fatalities and collection as pets continue to reduce the populations of this once widespread reptile.

The forests of Jug Bay have proved to be a refuge for the box turtle. Since 1995, we have marked individual box turtles with a notched code along the edge of their shell. We have identified over 500 induviduals within a 300-acre area of the Sanctuary. Volunteers and staff members record measurements on every box turtle found. From repeated sitings, we are mapping the home ranges of individual turtles. To learn more, read this article in the Bay Weekly.

Over the years we have greatly expanded the regional knowledge on the Eastern Box Turtle. In addition to our mark-recapture study we also conduct radio telemetry work on 5-10 individuals per year; tracking their movements weekly to better understand the answers to the following questions:

  • What sorts of habitats do box turtles prefer?
  • What stimulates them to move about and search for food?
  • Where do they nest and where do they overwinter?
  • How long do they live?

Volunteers are critical to the research conducted here. Click to get involved.