Ornate Box Turtle

Ornate Box Turtle

Other Names: Western Box Turtle

Scientific Name: Terrapene ornate

Family: Emydidae

Description & Size

  • Rounded top shell (carapace)
  • Have a single hinge on the shell underneath the animal (plastron)
  • Shell length:  10.0-15.4 cm (3.9-6.1 in)
  • Carapace and plastron have bright yellow markings
  • Base color:  Carapace and plastron are brown to black in color
    • Males: have red irises and may have red on the forelimbs


  • Short, mixed, and tallgrass prairies
  • Sandy and loamy soils
  • Self-constructed or small mammal burrows


  • Omnivorous
  • Succulent plants
  • Arthropods (primarily dung beetles)
  • Worms
  • Small vertebrates

Life History

  • Diurnal
  • Active season:  April – October
  • Breeding season:  May – September
  • Lays eggs
  • 2-8 eggs per female


Ornate Box Turtle Range

Additional Information

  • Nebraska’s only terrestrial native turtle