The Uncommon, Common Box Turtle

Indeed. There is nothing common about the Eastern Box Turtle. Not only does every individual have an unique and personal pattern of orange and yellow markings, turtles also have such a connection with the earth, that it has enabled them to survive mass extinctions for more then 200 million years.

When Turtles are kept as pets and disconnected from Mother Earth, are housed in a small enclosure or aquarium, with limited light and food, no rain and even less humidity, they loose touch with the turtle they were born to be. Part of the mission of The Box Turtle Sanctuary of Central VA is to rehabilitate these lost turtles and to help them live their best lives. To be able to help and watch them reconnect with their Mother Earth, is always a moving experience.

3M and Fred ponder the changing temperatures and seem to give each other support.

Fred and 3M

Meet 3M and Fred. Turtles accepted into the sanctuary must spend their first year in quarantine, this gives us a chance to watch for health issues and also monitor normal turtle behavior, like Brumation. Because most of the new intake turtles have suffered from inadequate care and stress, we have learned that if possible, a buddy during that first year makes life a lot more interesting for them both.

3M and Fred are two adult Male Eastern Box Turtles. Fred is an older male, whose shell shows the smoothness of a turtle that has dug in for many winters. His story has become pretty common, he was rescued from a busy intersection with no viable habitat nearby, so he was taken home. Fred lived in an aquarium with bark mulch, a window for light and fed produce and turtle pellets, he looked out through the glass for at least 3 years, until finally a family member spoke up for him.

3M came with much less information. He was passed around for many years, and eventually ended up with a vet tech that recognized he needed a better life. He arrived with an overgrown beak that told us he had not been fed a balanced diet. Both these boys arrived as winter was turning to spring, and were soon accommodated outside in their own isolation pen.

They have become good buddies and are often seen hanging out together.

In the beginning, there was some mounting and dominate behavior, mostly from Fred who most likely had not seen another of his species in many years, and although this behavior can occasionally cause damage they were well monitored, and no turtles were hurt. I have absolutely loved the progression that their relationship has made. They have been seen eating together, climbing logs together, playing a turtle version of red rover and just enjoying each others company.

With the arrival of the colder October temperatures, their metabolism has slowed and they have now dug into their Mother Earth, just like their ancestors did for generations before them where they will await the warming rays of the Sun in the spring to begin another Turtle Summer.

Red Rover, Red Rover!

You CAN make a Difference!

Turtles belong in the wild. Habitat loss due to human encroachment and poaching for the illegal wildlife trade has wiped out many viable populations,

The Box Turtle Sanctuary will always help a turtle in need, but we need your help. We need to preserve habitat, create more wildlife areas and parks. We need to plant native plants that provide food and shelter for our native wildlife, and we need to advocate and educate. We can start here, in our own back yards.

And you can make a difference in the lives of turtles, just like Fred and 3M. If someone hadn’t spoken up for them they could still be living their own personal hell.

Box Turtles are marvelous! No generation should loose the opportunity to marvel at these amazing beings

We need your support. Please reach out if you would like to get more involved.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *