Box Turtles

Do not pick up a turtle from the wild. If there is one in the road, remove it and place it at least 30 feet off the side of the road in the direction it was facing (if it can be done safely).

Do not have a turtle as a pet until you have researched the care of that particular species requires.

Contact your Department of Natural Resources for rules and regulations regarding your states’ native species of turtles and tortoises.

If you find an injured turtles, contact the Division of Fish and Wildlife or your local veterinarian. When purchasing a turtle or tortoise for a pet, buy one that is captive bred.

Become involved with wildlife preservation areas. This creates awareness of environmental changes and effects, such as pesticides and construction projects.

Box Turtle Care


SCIENTIFIC NAME: Terrapene carolina

ADULT SIZE: 5-7 inches

Box Turtles are found across the Eastern United States and there are even sub-species in other parts of the world.


*Never keep ANY Box Turtle in an aquarium*

Eastern box turtles should ideally be kept outdoors, but a large indoor enclosure will also work if you make sure that the turtle gets enough sun light or artificial UVA and UVB light for vitamin D3 production.

The box turtle should be given opportunity to adjust its own body temperature by moving to different parts of its enclosure. A sunny area with a temperature of 85-87° F (29-30° C) should be combined with a cooler shaded area where the temperature is in the 75-78° (24-26° C) range. The cooler area should preferably have a moist substrate deep enough for the turtle to burrow in. A water dish large enough for soaking should also be present in the enclosure. When creating an enclosure, try to mimic a natural environment that the turtle would most likely experience in the wild (ex.. combine compost soil with some leaf litter and moss.) The eastern box turtle likes a moist substrate resembling a humid forest floor or grassy meadow.


When feeding your Box Turtle, try to feed them as natural of a diet as possible that they might encounter in the wild. As a rule of thumb, give your eastern box turtle roughly 50% protein rich food (such as worms, beetles, grasshoppers, etc), 10% dark leafy greens and 40% vegetables, fruits and mushrooms. Water should always be available for the turtle, not just to drink but to soak in as well.


Ewing, H. E. 1933. Reproduction in the eastern box-turtle Terrapene carolina carolina (Linne). Copeia. 1933(2): 95-96.

Indiana DNR Box Turtle FAQs

1.) May I collect a box turtle from the wild?

No. Regulations that became law in 2004 do not allow the collection of box turtles from the wild in Indiana. If you wish to collect one in another state, you must follow all rules and regulations of that state.

2.) Can I possess a box turtle as a pet?

Only if you acquired it legally. Indiana requires box turtle owners to have a permit issued by the DNR. This includes all sub species of box turtles, not just our native species, which are the Eastern and the Ornate.

3.) What should I do if I already have a box turtle?

If you have a box turtle and no longer want it, please contact the Division of Fish & Wildlife or e-mail Linnea Petercheff.

Do not release the turtle into the wild. Its chances of survival are small, and it could transmit diseases to a wild box turtles.

4.) Can I possess a box turtle egg, shell, or other parts of a turtle?

The eggs of all native reptiles, including box turtles, are protected by law and cannot be taken from the wild in Indiana. The shell or any other part of a box turtle is included in the protection of box turtles in Indiana.

5.) What should I do if I find an injured or sick box turtle?

Sick or slightly injured box turtles should be left in the wild. Box turtles are surprisingly resilient to damage and disease. If left alone, they will, more than likely, heal on their own. If a box turtle appears severely injured, it can be given to a licensed rehabilitator or licensed veterinarian.

You cannot possess an injured turtle for more than 24 hours to transport it to a licensed rehabilitator.

You can obtain the name(s) of licensed rehabilitators in your area by contacting one of the following:

Call a wild animal rehabilitator permitted by the DNR. A list is at

Call DNR law enforcement at (812) 837-9536.

Call the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife in Indianapolis at (317) 232-4080.

Call a licensed veterinarian.

6.) What do I do if I find a nesting turtle, nest or eggs?

Leave them alone. Box turtles can easily be scared away from nesting sites. A mesh fence may be placed around a nest to protect eggs from predators. This enclosure should be checked daily to ensure that newly emerging turtles are not caught. Do not try to excavate a turtle nest on your own. Disturbing the position of turtle eggs may kill the turtle embryo. If you see a nest that is about to be destroyed because of new development, you may contact a local rehabilitator for assistance. A licensed rehabilitator can raise the young and release them back into the wild. Do not try to rescue the eggs or nest yourself. Unfortunately, it may not be possible to save every nest.

7.) How can I help box turtles in the wild?

Leave leaf litter and fallen woody debris on the forest floor.

Protect and/or promote the protection of turtle habitat.

Obey speed limits to allow appropriate stopping time if a turtle is on the road.

If you see a box turtle trying to cross a busy road, you can pick it up and move it to the other side of the road in the direction it was facing. The turtle cannot be kept or moved to any other location.

Do not burn large areas during peak activity times for turtles.

Check yards before mowing or burning brush piles.

Report any collection or sale of box turtles to the Division of Fish & Wildlife at (317) 232-4080 or to the Division of Law Enforcement at (812) 837-9536. This can be done anonymously.