Ornate Box Turtle

Ornate Box Turtle       Terrapene ornata

Type of Animal:

Prairies, plains, grasslands, forests, pastures

E Colorado, E New Mexico, Texas (except for far W), Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, S South Dakota, W Louisiana, W Arkansas, Missouri, parts of Illinois, NW Indiana, SW Wisconsin, extreme SW & SE Iowa

Color variation w/ yellow lines from shell center to edges through gray, red-brown, or black coloration, males have large curved inner claws on back feet, longer thicker tails than females, males have reddish legs & sometimes, reddish jaws, males often have bright red/orange eyes, male has slightly concave plastron (bottom shell), black/dark brown carapace w/ yellow stripes, females have flat plastron

Worms, spiders, grasshoppers, caterpillars, carrion, fruit, berries, grasses, greens, crickets, beetles, melons, mushrooms, eggs, insect larvae, grubs, snails, slugs, vegetables, leaves, vegetation, flowers, baby mice, pill bugs, sow bugs, flies, stink bugs, cactus pads, young box turtles

Status in Wild:

Breeding from zoos, aquariums, & breeders. Reintroductions into wild from captive-bred animals.

Solitary or small groups of a male w/ 2-6 females

Additional Info:


Male-11.9 oz
Female-14 oz

2.5-3 months 

Life Span:
32-37 years

Body Length:
Male-3.9-4.3 in
Female-4.3-5.1 in

Tail Length:
Male-1 in
Female-0.5 in

Main predators of adults are bobcats, bears, snapping turtles, alligators, foxes, coyotes, raptors, snakes, raccoons, cats, dogs, skunks, badgers, opossums, weasels, rats, corvids, otters, mink, pigs, & bullfrogs. Young preyed on by many birds, rodents, shrews, armadillos, & adult box turtles.

Threatened due to vehicle collisions, over-collection for pet trade, introduced species, climate change, pollution, & habitat destruction.

State reptile of Kansas.

Hibernate in burrows in winter.

They’re slow breeders, w/ males maturing at 8 years & females at 10 years.

Females lay 2-8 eggs per clutch.

Fun Fact(s):
Humans shouldn’t eat them, since mushroom toxins may linger & cause poisoning to people.

Captive-bred individuals can make great pets.

Studies show populations have twice as many females as males, thought to be due to higher incubation temps producing females. Lower nest temps produce males.

While nonaggressive, they may bite and/or pee if handled rough

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