Box Turtle Survey Project

When was the last time you saw a box turtle? Although many Texans can recall frequent encounters with box turtles in backyards, on ranches, and along roadways as kids, many Texans report that they are now hard to find.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department would like to know if you see a box turtle in the state.

Box Turtle Reporting Form

Box Turtle Reporting Form – Online

Information on Box Turtles in Texas

Box Turtles (genus Terrapene) can be distinguished from other native Texas turtles by having a single hinge at the front of the lower shell (plastron), allowing them to fold it up and closing the front of the shell entirely; thus the common name of "box turtle." Box turtles also have a hooked upper jaw ("beak") that is lacking in other Texas turtles. The only other land turtle in Texas is the Texas Tortoise; it lacks any hinges on the plastron, has a head entirely covered with scales rather than having skin, and has a very rough upper shell (carapace). Male box turtles have red eyes (females yellow or golden), a longer tail with a thick base (females shorter and thinner), and a somewhat concave plastron (females have a flat one).

Texas has two native box turtle species:

Ornate Box Turtle

Ornate Box Turtle
Photo TPWD © Terry Hibbitts

Carolina Eastern Box Turtle

Eastern (or Three-toed) Box Turtle
Photo TPWD © Terry Hibbitts


For more information:

Missouri Conservation – Box Turtles

Contact the Wildlife Diversity Program at:

Texas Nature Trackers
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, Texas 78744
1-800-792-1112 x 8111


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