How Did the Box Turtle Get Its Name?
The box turtle (a North American land turtle) was so named because it has a hinged bottom shell that allows the shell to be closed into a tight box. If something frightens the turtle, it pulls its head, legs and tail into the shell and clamps the hinge shut. This way, very few enemies can get at it.
The shell consists of a high domed carapace (upper shell), and large, hinged plastron (lower shell) which allows the turtle to close the shell, sealing its vulnerable head and limbs safely within an impregnable box.
The carapace is brown, often adorned with a variable pattern of orange or yellow lines, spots, bars or blotches. The plastron is dark brown and may be uniformly colored, or show darker blotches or smudges.
Box turtles are fond of wild strawberries. Sometimes they eat so much that they can’t fit all the way back into their shells to avoid enemies. Box turtles also stuff themselves with mushrooms, insects, earthworms, and almost any other food they can find.
The box turtle has a small to moderately sized head and a distinctive hooked upper jaw. The majority of adult male box turtles have red irises, while those of the female are yellowish-brown. Males also differ from females by possessing shorter, stockier and more curved claws on their hind feet, and longer and thicker tails.
There are six living subspecies of the box turtle, each differing slightly in appearance, namely in the color and patterning of the carapace, and the possession of either three or four toes on each hind foot.