Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) is a terrestrial turtle found throughout the eastern United States, and is one of the longest lived animals in the world. Box turtles have a high domed carapace (top shell) and hinged plastron (bottom shell), which allows these animals to completely close up their shell to protect themselves from their enemies. The decorative shell patterns of box turtles are extremely interesting, and each box turtle is unique. The eyes of the male are usually red, and the female's eyes are a yellow brown. The male can also be identified by having a concave shape on the under side shell (see pic). Box turtles are omnivores with diets consisting of anything from slugs and snails to mushrooms and berries.

The turtle is very sacred to many Native Americans. In fact, many tribes attribute the creation of the world to the turtle. One NA legend believes that a sky girl fell to our world, which at the time had nothing but water and water based animals. The animals took her to the wise turtle. The turtle told them to put sand grains from the bottom of the ocean on his shell. They did this and soon the land grew and grew until the sky girl could live on this land. Many NA tribes believe this new land is North America.

Many box turtles have been found at The Cabin Path, but I have noticed a decline in their numbers over the years. For the last three years, I have been photographing and keeping a journal of the box turtles. Early fall seems to be a very active time for them, and they can also be found after a rain. Fire ants will disturb the nests of box turtles and eat the eggs, and I suspect that they are the single most cause of their declining numbers at The Cabin Path. I use chemical insecticides for very few things here, but I do treat the fire ant nests.

The Cabin Path is a certified animal habitat, and every effort is being made to help our Box Turtles to thrive.

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