Florida has four box turtles – the Common, the Eastern, the Gulf Coast and the Three-toed. Along with the gopher tortoise, the box turtles are land turtles who wander through woods, fields, and gardens.
Land turtles can live 150 years to the 70 years of a sea turtle unless, of course, you see one trying to cross the road and you do the turtle a “favor” by dropping them in a nearby body of water. Land turtles do not swim. They need only enough water to submerge themselves for a good soaking of their shell. Also, if you feel the need to move a turtle from the road, move it only out of harm’s way. Do not try to relocate it elsewhere. Turtles are very attached to the place of their birth and relocating them can cause them to wander aimlessly and die while attempting to find home. Remember how badly E.T. wanted to find home?
They forage on fruit, insects, plants, grubs and worms as well as crayfish, earthworms, frogs, lizards (yes!), slugs, snails, snakes and spiders.
At the Southern Rural Route, we were visited by a dinner plate-sized Florida Box Turtle. We identified it by the pattern of yellow stripes on the high-domed upper shell (a carapace). Most likely, it was a female searching for a nesting site.