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Eastern Box Turtle

North Carolina State Reptile

Eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina); photo by Todd W Pierson on Flickr (noncommercial use permitted with attribution / share alike).

Eastern Box Turtle

The Eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina) was designated as the official state reptile of North Carolina in 1979. Listed as "near threatened" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the eastern box turtle should be monitored and protected to avoid further population decline.

The eastern box turtle is found along the entire east coast of the U.S. and inland as far as Michigan, Kansas, and Texas. The name was inspired by the box turtle's ability to retract its head and legs into its shell and clamp it shut, creating a protective "box."

Eastern box turtles are omnivorous, with a varied diet of plants, roots, fish, snails, berries, fungi, and even small birds and snakes. Eastern box turtles can live to be over 100 years old (40 - 60 years is the average lifespan in the wild).