Mexican Box Turtle Overview


Mexican box turtle, Terrapene carolina mexicana

Mexican Box Turtle
Image by by G.H. Ford – Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1848-1849. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.


Terrapene carolina mexicana, the Mexican box turtle, lives in (where else!) Mexico. It doesn’t have any natural range in the US, but there may be a few here as pets. Today it’s illegal to import them, but that wasn’t always the case.

Even so, you’re not likely to ever have one as a pet, simply because the few that are here don’t make it into the pet trade.

If you’d like to know a little bit more about this box turtle anyway, well then read on!

What the Mexican Box Turtle Looks Like

The Mexican box turtle is a medium-sized box turtle, about 6 to 8 inches long. Its upper shell (carapace) is elongated, dome-shaped and brown or tan in color.

It may have bright yellow markings on it shell and/or skin.

It looks somewhat like the three-toed box turtle. It also often has three toes on its hind feet.

Where & How the Mexican Box Turtle Lives

This box turtle’s natural range is in three states in Eastern Mexico: Veracruz, San Luis Potosi and Tamaulipas.

Each turtle has a small home area, rarely venturing more than a couple hundred meters from its “home base.” And home has water nearby and brush to hide under.

In this area they enjoy daytime temperatures above 75° F. Nighttime temperatures usually stay above 65° F.

Beyond that, we don’t really know too much about these turtles since their range is small and we can’t observe them as pets.

As mentioned, they don’t live in the wild in the US and are not part of the pet trade. Importing them has been illegal since the 1980s. Some were brought into the country before the ban, but we don’t really know how many. Or how many are left. At any rate, they’re not being bred for the pet trade.

Diet for the Mexican Box Turtle

As far as diet goes, this box turtle is similar to others. It’s an omnivore that likes insects, slugs, snails, etc., which are easy to find near water. It’ll also eat plants, fruits and berries.

Box turtle eating strawberry

It can also eat poisonous mushrooms without getting sick from them. And this is a big part of why it’s a bad idea for humans to eat a box turtle. The mushroom’s poisons get into the turtle’s flesh and can make you very sick. If there’s enough toxin in the turtle, it could even kill you.

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