Ornate Box Turtle (Terrapene ornata)

Photograph - Ornate Box Turtle (Terrapene ornata)

TPWD © Terry Hibbitts

Other Names
Desert Box Turtle
The carapace of the Ornate Box Turtle is relatively broad and oval, usually slightly flattened at the top, and lacks both a narrow keel lengthwise down the center and any flaring at the rear edge. The tallest point of the shell is just in front of the hinge on the plastron, so viewed sideways it'll be tallest at the front of the turtle. The carapace is dark with many yellow lines, sometimes grouped into "starbursts" radiating downward, and the plastron is dark brown or black with a pattern similar to the carapace. There are almost always four toes on each hind foot. In older specimens of the ornate box turtle, the coloration may be more of a plain brown color.
Box turtles are "dry-land" turtles and may be found far from a water body. The ornate box turtle is usually found in open habitats: pastures, prairie and open woodland. This species is most active after rain, especially in drier habitats.
Distribution of the Ornate Box Turtle (Terrapene ornata)
How You Can Help
To help with the Box Turtle monitoring project, please join and contribute observations to the Herps of Texas iNaturalist project.
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