Three Toes or Four?

Texas is home to two different types of box turtles, the Ornate Box Turtle (Terrapene ornate ornate) and the Eastern or Three-toed Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina triunguis), A sub-species of the ornate turtle lives in Trans-Pecos west to eastern Arizona and south into Mexico is called the Western Ornate Turtle (Terrapene ornata luteola). Since those are so rare, we’ll concentrate on the Three-toed and the Ornate Box Turtles. We’ll get into the differences in a minute, but their decline in number as alerted Texas Parks and Wildlife. Box turtles used to be so plentiful that a mile of country road would yield one or more of these ponderously moving reptiles. These days a sighting is a special occasion. In fact, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department would like your help tracking box turtles. The following link provides printable forms, on-line forms, contact phone numbers and brief descriptions of what you are looking for. It is urged that you make a report whenever you come across a box turtle.   Box Turtles don’t cleanly fit into any of the three common “classifications” of turtle that were discussed in the Texas Tortoise article. Box turtles spend all of their life-cycle on land, but are not tortoises. The Latin name Terrapene places them in the terrapin group even though they spend no time in the water. Unlike all other turtles, the plastron of the Box Turtle is hinged allowing the turtle draw its head had front legs in behind its protection. When a box turtle brings itself into its shell, only the tips of the front claws, an edge of the back feet and perhaps a peek of tail can be seen.The protection is so good [...]