The Florida box turtle is a small animal with a small native range. Like many other box turtles, it’s protected in its home state, and it’s illegal to capture wild ones. So before getting one, make sure you know the law and follow it.
And make sure you set up a home with plenty of humidity, fresh water and material to burrow into.
What the Florida Box Turtle Looks Like
Terrapene carolina bauri, the Florida box turtle, is a small turtle. It’s usually only about 5 to 5.5 inches long.
It has a dorsal keel and a yellow starburst pattern on its dark (brown or black) carapace, similar to the ornate box turtle. But its carapace is narrower than the ornate’s, and it often flares at the back. Also, the yellow lines are usually thinner than those on an ornate.
Its plastron is tan and may have darker brown lines on it.
It has brown skin with yellow lines on either side of the head, starting at about the corners of the eyes. The lines aren’t necessarily solid.
Its eyes are brown (both males and females).
The rear legs have either three or four toes, although four is more common. This turtle is also a good climber.
Where the Florida Box Turtle Lives
The Florida box turtle lives—where else—in Florida. You can also find it in the Keys and sometimes even southern Georgia.
It prefers damp woods, swamps and marshes, similar to the Gulf Coast box turtle.
How the Florida Box Turtle Lives
These turtles love to spend time in the water, but that doesn’t mean they like to swim. They can swim, but they prefer sitting in shallow water over swimming.
Because Florida stays warm year-round, the Florida box turtle stays active year-round and rarely hibernates. It does slow down when the temperatures drop, but things rarely get cold enough that it has to hibernate.
Diet for the Florida Box Turtle
Like its other box turtle relatives, the Florida box turtle is an omnivore that eats whatever it can find. It’ll catch live prey, like crickets, flies, earthworms and other creepy crawlies.
It’ll also eat any available plants and their fruits, berries or leaves, along with moss and mushrooms.
If you have one as a pet (be careful, it’s illegal in many areas to take one from the wild, and Florida law limits you to two without a permit—it’s best to buy captive bred turtles), you can feed it similar items.
Consider things like squash, various lettuces and mushrooms for plant foods. Plus various worms, beetles and (if they don’t bother you) frozen pinky mice for protein.
For more information on feeding box turtles, take a look at What Box Turtles Eat.