The majority of field sites we go to have either Eastern box turtles or Ornate box turtles. However, we went to a site last week that had both. Here is how you differentiate between the two species:

Eastern box turtles

Ornate box turtles

Scientific Name

Terrapene carolina carolina Terrapene ornata ornata

Native Range


(Todd, 2000, p. 5)

(Redder et al., 2006, p.10)


Forested areas Prairies


More color variation, may see yellow, brown, orange, or red

Tend to have yellow lines on a brown background on carapace with yellow or orange accents on scales


Larger Smaller



Redder, A. J., Dodd, C. K., Jr., Keinath, D., (2006). Ornate box turtle (Terrapene ornata ornata): A technical conservation assessment. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region.

Todd, C. S. (2000). Eastern box turtle assessment. Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife: Wildlife Division.