NATIONAL EASTERN BOX TURTLE WEEK | First Full Week in May
We celebrate National Eastern Box Turtle Week the first full week in May to praise the remarkable resilience of the Eastern Box Turtle.
The entire first full week of May celebrates a resilient and popular reptile, commonly known as the Eastern Box Turtle. A subspecies of the common box turtle, the Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) is native to eastern parts of the U.S. and radiates beautiful colors on its shell. Today, we want everyone to celebrate by learning about the Eastern Box Turtle.
“Eastern Box Turtles are walking wildflowers of color who move forward with patient perseverance.”
What is the Eastern Box Turtle? As a part of the hinge-shelled turtles, Eastern Box Turtles are not a tortoise and are mostly terrestrial. They are considered slow moving reptiles that live a long life and are fairly slow to reproduce. Their attractive appearance and gentle disposition are admired by children and adults alike. Sadly, Eastern Box Turtles are susceptible to high mortality due to the pace they move when crossing roads, or when trying to escape harm. Unfortunately, illegal poaching also contributes to declining numbers. In addition, habitat loss has also been an increasing problem for the Eastern Box Turtle and it’s survival.
How can you identify an Eastern Box Turtle from other turtles? Eastern Box Turtles are beautiful turtles, especially the male species. Even though female Eastern Box Turtles mostly have brown shells, male turtles of this species have radiant lines of yellow, orange, red, or white on their shell. In addition, they also have very distinct spots. On occasion, the female species also has bright colors on their shells, making identification between male and female tough. Interestingly, the easiest way to tell the male species from the female is all male Eastern Box Turtles have red eyes.
There are interesting facts about the Eastern Box Turtle that are worth knowing. For example, Eastern Box Turtles:
- Are the official reptile in North Carolina.
- Can regenerate and reform their shell when injured or damaged.
- Have fives toes on front legs and four toes on the hind legs.
- Range in size from 4.5 to 8 inches long.
- Feature sharp stout limbs with webbed feet at the base of the feet.
- Tend to cool off in ponds, shallow streams, and mud.
SUPPORTING EASTERN BOX TURTLES
- Volunteer with a turtle Rescue team to treat sick and injured turtles.
- Visit a turtle habitat.
- Learn about Eastern Box Turtles.
- Visit the TRT website to learn about Eastern Box Turtles.
- Donate to a local vet clinic that treats injured and sick turtles.
- Share your support on social media using #NationalEasternBoxTurtleWeek.
National Day Calendar began working with Bruce Worf to form National Eastern Box Turtle Week in 2022. Each year during the first week in May, we will celebrate this reptile holiday. The week also honors the work of the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine Turtle Rescue Team. The Turtle Rescue Team (TRT) is a veterinary student-run organization that treats native, sick, and injured wild turtles. Eastern box turtles make up the majority of the patients treated.
Turtle Rescue Team
The TRT was founded in early 1996 by Dr. Gregory Lewbart and has been treating over 500 turtle patients in recent years. Dr. Lewbart, Professor of Aquatic, Wildlife, and Zoological Medicine is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in these fields of Veterinary Medicine. He provides expert advice and supervision to veterinary students rotating through the clinic with the help of Zoological Medicine Research Specialist, Kent Passingham.
After a generous donation by wildlife rehabilitator, Linda Henis, TRT has expanded significantly. The clinic has consultations and diagnostic equipment provided by NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital to allow students the opportunity to work, diagnose, and treat turtles with state-of-the-art equipment.
Dr. Bruce Worf, a physician and longtime sponsor of the TRT, with the help of Representative Rosa Gill, spearheaded the effort to get the North Carolina Legislature to designate the TRT as a Special License Plate, featuring the TRT logo, an Eastern Box Turtle with a Red Cross adorning it’s shell. In addition, Niki Theobald, Development Director, NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine also supported the creation of a NEBTW to honor the work of the TRT.
Students at TRT:
- Contribute to published research on their turtle patients.
- Participate in various Outreach Programs with North Carolina museums, aquariums, and parks.
- Established the Turtle Ally Certification Program to help veterinarians across North Carolina improve their skills in treating injured native wild turtles.
- Volunteer in a very successful anti-poaching operation that results in a significant period of incarceration and legal sanctions for a poacher of wild turtles in North Carolina.
Dr. Bruce Worf also contributed to founding National Megalodon Day, which is celebrated June 15 each year.