Orange and yellow starbursts pattern their sun-dappled shells. If they have enough protected habitat, Eastern box turtles (Terrapene carolina) can live up to 100 years in the wild. However, mostly due to habitat loss, the Eastern Box Turtle is listed as a species of special concern in Massachusetts. You can make a difference for your wild neighbors.
As the weather warms, you may see this rare turtle during your local travels and walks. We welcome learning about your sightings in Harwich since it helps us understand their whereabouts relative to conservation lands and areas for potential protection. By submitting the sighting to the MassWildlife’s Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program, you also can help scientists and policy makers protect box turtles and their habitat.
If you cross paths with a box turtle, please take a photo (the most important documentation), record the time and date, address/location where found, direction the turtle was traveling in, and description of the habitat.
A volunteer with HCT will follow up to help submit your sighting to the Massachusetts Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program, which maintains a database of rare species observations.
Please ensure your own safety if you see a box turtle in the road. If safe to do so, cross the turtle in the direction that it’s heading by firmly grasping the turtle on the back of its carapace (top of the shell) with your thumb and fingers underneath supporting its plastron (bottom of the shell).
Note: Unless in imminent danger, turtles should never be moved away from where they are found to “better” locations because they will attempt to return to their home range. Therefore, if found crossing a road, just bring the turtle to the side it was headed already.
Learn more about this fascinating turtle here: Eastern Box Turtle
We appreciate you helping HCT make a lasting, local difference for this rare and beautiful turtle.