box turtle


box turtle
any of several chiefly terrestrial turtles of the genus Terrapene, of North America, having a hinged plastron that can be tightly shut to enclose and protect the body. Also called box tortoise. See illus. under turtle.
[1795-1805, Amer.]

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Any of several species of terrestrial turtle (genus Terrapene) found in the U.S. and Mexico.

Box turtles have a high, rounded upper shell (carapace) that grows to a maximum length of about 7 in. (18 cm). The lower shell (plastron) is hinged across the center and can be drawn very tightly against the carapace to form a protective "box" that completely encloses the turtle's soft parts. They feed on earthworms, insects, mushrooms, and berries. Box turtles are often kept as pets.

Box turtle (Terrapene carolina)

John H. Gerard
EB Inc.

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 any of two groups, Asian and North American, of terrestrial and semiaquatic turtles (turtle). Box turtles have a high, rounded upper shell (carapace), a flattened bottom shell (plastron) with a transverse hinge, and ligamentous (ligament) connections (instead of the bony (bone) bridge typical of most turtles) between plastron and carapace. Their common name is presumably derived from their ability to draw their head and limbs completely within the shell and close themselves up like a box. The presence of a hinge and ligamentous bridges permits this flexibility. Their high, domed shell makes them too large for many predators to consume whole, and the tight closure that occurs when all external parts are drawn into the shell makes box turtles difficult to crack open. The Asian and North American box turtles are not closely related in spite of their overall similarity. Cuora, the Asian genus, is part of family Geoemydidae, and Terrapene, the North American genus, is part of family Emydidae.

      Cuora contains nine or more species that occur within subtropical and tropical regions of Asia from northeastern India to southeastern China and southward into the Sunda Islands and the Philippines. Asian box turtles are omnivorous (omnivore), largely semiaquatic turtles that, depending on the species, have carapace lengths of 13–20 cm (5–8 inches) as adults. Each clutch size is typically two eggs (egg), although two to four clutches are often deposited during a single nesting season.

      Terrapene is largely found in cool to warm temperate regions east of the Rocky Mountains from southernmost Canada to the Gulf Coast of the United States and into Mexico. It is strongly terrestrial, although the Coahuilan box turtle (T. coahuila) is semiaquatic. The four species of Terrapene have the same range of shell sizes as Cuora and similarly share an omnivorous diet; however, they tend to lay larger clutches of eggs. The eastern box turtle (T. carolina carolina) lays a maximum of eight eggs in a clutch, although clutches of three or four eggs are more typical.

George R. Zug
 

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Box turtle — Turtle Tur tle, n. [Probably the same word as the word preceding, and substituted (probably by sailors) for the Spanish or Portuguese name; cf. Sp. tortuga tortoise, turtle, Pg. tartaruga, also F. tortue, and E. tortoise.] [1913 Webster] 1. (Zo[… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Box turtle — Box Box, n.; pl. {Boxes} [As. box a small case or vessel with a cover; akin to OHG. buhsa box, G. b[ u]chse; fr. L. buxus boxwood, anything made of boxwood. See {Pyx}, and cf. {Box} a tree, {Bushel}.] 1. A receptacle or case of any firm material… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • box turtle — ☆ box turtle or box tortoise n. any of several North American terrapins (genus Terrapene) with a hinged shell that can be completely closed: usually found on land …   English World dictionary

  • Box turtle — Taxobox name = Box Turtle image width = 250px image caption = Florida Box Turtle, Terrapene carolina bauri regnum = Animalia phylum = Chordata classis = Reptilia ordo = Testudines familia = Emydidae subdivision ranks = Genera subdivision = Cuora… …   Wikipedia

  • box turtle — noun chiefly terrestrial turtle of North America; shell can be closed tightly • Syn: ↑box tortoise • Hypernyms: ↑turtle • Hyponyms: ↑Western box turtle, ↑Terrapene ornata • Member Holony …   Useful english dictionary

  • box turtle — box′ tur tle n. ram any chiefly terrestrial North American turtle of the genus Terrapene, having a hinged shell that can be tightly shut. Also called box′ tor toise • Etymology: 1795–1805, amer …   From formal English to slang

  • box turtle — noun A turtle of the genus Terrapene (the North American box turtles), or of Cuora or Pyxidea (the Asian box turtles), characterised by having a domed shell that is hinged at the bottom, allowing the animal to close its shell tightly to escape… …   Wiktionary

  • box turtle — noun a land living turtle having a lower shell with hinged lobes that can be drawn up tightly. [Genus Terrapene: several species.] …   English new terms dictionary

  • box turtle — noun Date: circa 1804 any of several North American land turtles (genus Terrapene) capable of withdrawing into their shell and closing it by hinged joints in the lower half called also box tortoise …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Ornate box turtle — This article is about the subspecies Terrapene ornata ornata. For the subspecies Terrapene ornata, see Terrapene ornata. Ornate box turtle Conservation status …   Wikipedia


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