The Eastern Box Turtle is the North Carolina State reptile. It has a thick domed shell and the ability to close its shell completely- that’s why they call it a box turtle. Their shells have interesting markings. These turtles live on land, and lay their eggs on land. Their diet consists of insects, worms, slugs and snails, carrion, mushrooms (even some that are poisonous to people) and other plants. In the winter they dig down into the soft soil but may come out on warm winter days. They can live as long as 50 years. One of the biggest threats to the Box Turtle is the automobile! If you see a Box Turtle trying to cross the road and you want to help, stop and when safe take it across the road in the direction it is headed. But be careful! And although it’s tempting, it’s better not to make it a pet. Think, if it lives 50 years that would be quite a commitment. Better to just watch them for awhile- they do move slowly.
Here in Davidson, NC the Eastern Box Turtle is a commonly seen creature. In our neighborhood we find them on a regular basis and one neighbor spotted a female laying eggs and then later saw some of the eggs hatch. They are so common that Davidson College has an ongoing research project. They ask residents who find Box Turtles to bring them in to their lab where they weigh them, and give them a code which is entered in a data base and also recorded on the shell of the turtle using notches. This doesn’t hurt the turtle and allows for the turtle to be tracked if it shows up in the lab again. The lab asks the person who brought the turtle in to come back and get it and release it where they found it. This link will take you to the web site of the Herpetology Lab at Davidson College.
Check out the turtles at Davidson Farmer’s Market on Saturday Sept. 10. DAVIDSON FARMER’S MARKET, Saturday, September 10th, 8:30am to 11:30am: In anticipation of the North America Association for Environmental Education’s annual conference, which will be held in Raleigh-Durham this year, Tryon T. Turtle has been crawling his way across the state to bring awareness to this event. Come to the market this Saturday to meet Tryon and to look at some local real turtles. To preview or register for the conference on October 12-15; go to www.naaee.org. To follow Tryon’s adventures, go to: www.facebook.com/TryonTurtleNC; http://tryonturtlenc.blogspot.com/; www.twitter.com/TryonTurtleNC #TryonTurtle.