What if nature were to have a beauty contest.....where do you think turtles would place? Put them up against the cuter, furry raccoons, squirrels, deer and such I imagine turtles would be way down on the "cute" O meter! In fact, the only one they may beat in a contest might be snakes!! And in the turtle "world" I bet we'd be happier picking up a Box turtle over a Snapping turtle any day!
Have you heard the old saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." ? Mother nature seems to have given turtles the "it ain't broke, so don't fix it evolution". Fossil records tells us that turtles have been on earth about 200 million years, and have changed little in all that time. Box turtles won't win any races but they must have what it takes to be around that long!
Box turtles differ from other turtles in several ways. They are terrestrial (land-dwelling) turtles. Their high, domed shells and unwebbed feet are adapted for life on land, not water.
Missouri is home to this little guy. The three-toed box turtle (Terrapene carolina triunguis) is found statewide, except in the northwestern corner and extreme northern Missouri. Adult three-toed box turtles are 4.5 to 6 inches long (115-145mm). Three-toed box turtles, as their name implies, typically have three hind toes - but some individuals have four. They are a forest species, although they may also be found along forest edges and brushy fields. They consume earthworms and insects, but adult three-toed box turtles tend to be more vegetarian, eating a variety of plants, berries and mushrooms. This is the common box turtle of the Ozark woods.
Adult male turtles can generally be identified by their more colorful heads and forelimbs, a slight depression in the plastron and bright red eyes. As in most of nature, the males are more bright than the females.
A close examination of each individual plate (or scute) of a box turtle's bottom shell can reveal the turtle's age. Box turtles exhibit growth rings on each scute similar to the annual rings of trees; one ring equals one year's growth. On young turtles up to 10 years old, the rings are conspicuous and easily counted. However, older turtles gradually wear these rings smooth. A turtle with a completely smooth lower shell with no visible growth rings can be estimated to be at least 30 years old. Just how long box turtles live is uncertain. Estimates range from 32 to more than 80 years. Three-toed box turtles of over 50 years have been documented.
Most box turtle mating takes place in the spring. Two to eight white eggs are laid in the spring or summer. Young turtles hatch in two to three months; however, some clutches laid in summer may not hatch until the following spring.