A Box Turtle at Sweetbriar

Tuesday, August 6, 2019,

This is an Eastern Box Turtle. I encountered this little lady at Sweetbriar Nature Center. She’s not quite a full-grown adult yet. While no longer a baby, she still has at least an inch to grow.

I was able to discern her gender using two methods. The first, which is not foolproof, concerns the color of the eyes. Males tend to have bright red or orange irises, whereas females usually have brown eyes. A more certain method of determining the sex of a Box Turtle is to pick the turtle up and have a good look at the plastron, or bottom shell. The plastrons of the males are concave which comes in handy during mating.

There are a few more methods that can be used to differentiate between male and female Box Turtles but, judging by the look she’s giving me here, perhaps enough is enough. Maybe that conversation can wait for another day. JK


Baby Boxer

Friday, October 14, 2016,

This is a baby Box Turtle. Cute little beastie, isn’t it? I was with a group of birders at Avalon during the most recent Four Harbors Audubon monthly walk. One of the walkers – one with much better eyes than my own – spotted this tiny little guy near the side of the path. And, as the next two pics will show, this is one small turtle. In fact, these photos are slightly larger than life. Click on each pic for an even larger view.

After all of us had a chance to view this diminutive marvel we began discussing what species of hard-bodied critter this was. Birders are like that. It’s not enough to see a bird – they insist on identifying everything they see. Some of the walkers thought we were looking at a baby Snapping Turtle and others were thinking it was a Diamondback Terrapin. I was certain that it was neither. I’ve seen plenty of baby Snappers and baby Terrapins and this wasn’t one of either. My first instinct was Box Turtle but I couldn’t be sure. While I’ve been very familiar with Box Turtles since childhood, my experience with baby Boxers is quite limited. The shape of this guy’s head screamed Box Turtle but that shell didn’t look quite right. The dome didn’t seem high enough but, again, I don’t get to meet many baby Boxers. 


Luckily, birders are not my only resource. I sent these pics to some of my friends at Sweetbriar Nature Center and then I posted the shots at Facebook’s Long Island Wildlife Photography page. The general concensus was that this was, indeed, a baby Box Turtle. And while this may seem like an ‘I told you so’ moment, the truth is that without the input of others I would never be certain of what this little guy is. Thanks to everyone who helped me figure this out. JK

A Box Turtle At Connetquot State Park

Saturday, October 10, 2015,

20150917095300-5x7wThis is a Box Turtle that I saw at Connetquot River State Park Preserve. Yeah, it’s a bit of a mouthful but it’s a great park. In my head it’s Connetquot Park which is easier for my simple mind to digest and much easier to say. Anyways, back to the turtle. This guy was enjoying a sunny patch on one of the trails. Click on the pic to see him a bit larger. Box Turtles are handsome critters. I’ve been a fan of these guys since I was seven or so. They have always been a part of my Long Island landscape.

By the way, I don’t know the actual gender of this turtle. There are ways to ascertain this but it involves picking the critter up and looking at its lower shell. These days I usually prefer to just let Mother Nature be and take the pics. This turtle was gracious enough to let me take its pic and did not need me to roust him from his morning sunbath. We both got to enjoy the morning and I came away with this pic. Life is good. JK

Backyard Box Turtle

Wednesday, June 11, 2014,

20140605150830-5x7wThis guy is one of my neighbors. Or maybe it’s a gal, I dunno. I didn’t check under anyone’s skirts. I was looking out my back window when I saw this Box Turtle hurtling across the back yard. Okay, maybe ‘hurtling’ is a bit drastic but this beauty was moving at speed. It had somewhere to be. Despite appearances turtles, even Box Turtles with their highly domed shells, tend to move quite a bit quicker than most folks would expect. These guys are much more agile and mobile than they look. Luckily, I was able to grab a camera and catch up to my quarry. And some of you folks probably think this is easy work. I never made the track team in high school but I’ve still got enough to outpace a turtle. If the coach could only see me now.