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Blanche

BLANCHE – THREE-TOED BOX TURTLE

Hatch Year: estimated before 1994
Arrival to WBS: 2014
Sex: Female
Reason for Residence: cracked shell

Blanche arrived with 3 other turtles from Fontenelle Forest in Nebraska. One of the four turtles had previously been used for education, and the other three showed great promise of becoming education ambassadors. They were brought to World Bird Sanctuary in 2014 to join our Nature Center, and were all named after the Golden Girls.

Blanche is a full sized turtle and is easily recognized by her damaged shell. Her shell was most likely cracked from a car collision. Dorothy is an excellent education ambassador for teaching people about the importance of watching for turtles crossing the roads and how to assist them to safety. During the winter she is usually sleeping in her cave with the other turtles, but once the weather warms up she enjoys supervised outdoor exploration time.

SPECIES: THREE-TOED BOX TURTLE

CONSERVATION STATUS: LEAST CONCERN
Road-building and other forms of habitat loss have contributed to the box turtle’s overall decline throughout its North American range. Sadly, many box turtles never make it across the road, which they likely see as just another open, sunny area in their habitat.

Scientific Name: Terrapene carolina triunguis
Description: The name “box turtle” refers to the ability of this reptile to tightly close its shell when frightened or startled. A hinged lower shell allows these reptiles to completely encase their head and legs, providing protection. The name “threetoed” refers to the three toes (and claws) on the hind legs of most specimens colorful or drab, depending on its age. Younger turtles normally have an olive-brown shell with faint yellow or orange lines radiating from the center of each scale. They also have a few dark-brown markings along the top of the upper shell.
Sex: Adult males typically have colorful patches of orange, yellow, white, tan, dark brown and black on the skin on the head, neck, and front legs. Males also have red to reddish-brown eyes, while females’ eyes are typically brown to yellow-brown. The lower shell of an adult male box turtle (all species) has a dent or concave area that allows it to breed with a female. In contrast, the lower shells of females are flat with no indentation.
Age: in Missouri 15-30 years, but can live up to 80 years
Shell Length: 4.5″-5″
Habitat: prefers a forested landscape with numerous open grassy areas, home range of 2-5 acres
Range: native to the south-central part of the United States; more common in the western and northern parts of Missouri

Behavior: Box turtles become active in April. Courtship and mating last from late April to July or later. The male three-toed box turtle courts by pulsating his orange throat. Most egg-laying occurs from May to early July. At dusk, the female selects an elevated, open patch of soil or sand and digs a hole with her hind legs. A clutch is usually three to eight eggs, which hatch in about three months. There are one to two clutches per season. Unlike adult turtles that are protected by their shells, hatchlings are only about 1 inch long and are especially vulnerable to predators. Box turtles dig into leaf litter and soil and go dormant to survive cold winter months.

Diet: Box turtles are omnivores, but their diets vary by season and the availability of food sources. They are known to eat earthworms, insects, snails, slugs, mulberries, strawberries, mushrooms, and green-leafed vegetation.

Fun Facts!
– The Three-toed Box Turtle is the official reptile of the state of Missouri.

– Three-toed Box Turtles are a subspecies within the genus of hinge-shelled turtles commonly referred to as box turtles and is native to the south-central part of the United States.

*most information about Three-toed Box Turtles from https://mdc.mo.gov/

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