Basics on Terrapene carolina, with embroidery

TurtleFest is coming up. In preparation, I am designing a sampler of the common turtles of the Piedmont, which is rather tricky as there are WAY too many turtles and most of them look like brown slimy rocks. Here’s the first, Terrapene carolina carolina, the Eastern Box Turtle:

Box Turtle Needlebook Canvas

Box Turtle Needlebook Canvas

Yes, they really are that orange. And just so you know, the free transform command in pixlr is much, much faster than blocking.

I like box turtles. Everybody likes box turtles. In honor of box turtles, here are some basics:

Female box turtle, © 2001, John H. Tashjian,  California Academy of Sciences.

Female box turtle, © 2001, John H. Tashjian, California Academy of Sciences. (

1. They are known to live at least 120 years but no one is really clear how long.

2. They can be semi-frozen, surviving -2 °C  for 44 hours. Really. Someone did this.

3. They eat pretty much anything.

4. They will sit in place for weeks for no good reason, apparently just contemplating life.

5. They are homebodies. Home ranges can be less than an acre and they will attempt to return to them if displaced.

6. Sex determination is controlled by nest temperature, with females requiring warmer nests.

Male box turtle

Male box turtle. 2004 National Park Service (

7. Counting scute rings sort of will tell you the age of the turtle, and sort of won’t.

8. Sexing a box turtle is pretty easy. Females have brown eyes and males have bright red or orange eyes. There are other differences, but the eyes are easier, as it doesn’t require flipping the turtle, which they would really rather you didn’t do.


Dodd, C. K. Jr., North American Box Turtles. 2001. University of Oklahoma Press.

“Eastern Box Turtle.” Wikipedia, available from Accessed 24, March 2014.

“Terrapene carolina carolina.” Encyclopedia of life, available from Accessed 24, March 2014.

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3 Responses to Basics on Terrapene carolina, with embroidery

  1. Very nice! Your patterns are so precise. I’m not sure how you feel about flora but I think you would create spectacular flower patterns, like the anatomy of a tulip or something.

  2. One of these days I need to do something other than critters. You’re absolutely right. The bluets just came up this week. Maybe I could do some of those.

  3. Pingback: A solid turtle | Curious Needleworks

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