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Box Turtle Eastern behavior

Eastern box turtles are widespread, inhabiting much of the eastern and central United States. The Eastern Box Turtle is and one of the most common box turtles both in the wild and in captivity. It is often a preferred choice for a pet box turtle because it is one of the easiest box turtles to maintain successfully and because it is a colorful species. Box turtles are often touted as good pet turtles for children, because they are usually docile, do not grow as large as most other turtles, and do not require an aquatic set-up; however, they can be difficult to acclimate and have specific care requirements that must be met in order to ensure their long-term health and well being.

While most box turtles can swim and are found near bodies of freshwater, they are not amphibious like the typical turtle; rather they are land turtles that resemble tortoises in both their physical appearance and mode of life. Because of this, they are sometimes erroneously referred to as "box tortoises," but they are, in fact, more closely related to the amphibious turtles and are classified with them as members of the family Emydidae - the freshwater turtles. The box turtle's plastron is hinged, allowing the turtle to "box" its tail, legs, and head inside its shell when threatened. The shell closes surprisingly tightly, and only those predators that can bite through the shell pose a serious threat. Young box turtles lack this ability and are much easier prey. Unlike many reptiles, Eastern Box Turtles do not exhibit territorial behavior. Home ranges often overlap, and when the box turtles come into contact with one another, they show no apparent signs of aggression. Box turtles are omnivores. The make-up of the diet changes as they age and according to the seasonal availability of foods. Juveniles are mostly or entirely carnivorous, but as they age, plant matter will make up a greater portion of their diet. The meaty portion of the Eastern Box Turtle's diet consists of invertebrates such as insects, snails, and worms and small vertebrates including birds, snakes, and amphibians. They also eat the eggs of ground nesting birds and have been observed eating carrion. The diet of adult Eastern Box Turtles consists largely of fungi and plant material such as flowers and berries, and typically only about 35% of the diet consists of animal matter. Eastern Box Turtles inhabit open woodland areas, grasslands, and thickets, often keeping within a home range that has a body of freshwater. Eastern Box turtles are diurnal; and during the day, when the weather is suitable, they will be out foraging for food, basking, or soaking in mud or shallow water. In the evening they will find a secure spot and dig a shallow depression in the ground to sleep in. When days become particularly hot or dry, box turtles will limit their activities to mornings and otherwise are inactive, except after a rain. To avoid the sun and heat, they will hide under logs or leaf litter, often digging out shallow depressions in the dirt to sit in, or they may soak in shaded shallow water or mud. During the winter months box turtles brumate underground. They will dig burrows up to 2 feet deep, or may use pre-existing burrows of mammals or other box turtles to over-winter in. Eastern Box Turtles from different regions brumate at different times, usually beginning between October and December, depending on temperatures in their region. Those in the northern part of their range begin brumating earlier than those in southern regions, where fall and winter temperatures are higher. It is usually sometime in April when they come out of brumation and begin mating, which may continue through summer. Eggs are laid between May and July.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Box_Turtle_Eastern".
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