Ornate Box Turtle in Florida?

toad323

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Hello! I just joined this forum because we might have a situation. We found this fellow in our yard on his back, and normally I would move him away from the dogs and let him be. But I noticed he has some fingernail polish glitter on his shell so he was captive at some point, and from what I have been able to deduce I think he is an ornate box turtle rather than a Florida box turtle. His lines are much thicker and his shell is flattened at the top rather than domed like the Florida box turtle. But, this isn't the natural area for the ornate, so my worry is he escaped or was released and might not handle the wild well. I guess I'm looking for advice on if he is ornate, and if so is it best for me to take him in or let him back out. Just want to do what's best for the little guy! He's in a container with mustard greens for right now (I have a beardie so I'm stocked with greens and superworms) but if it's best for me to keep him he'll definitely get a better setup. Thanks for your help!

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toad323

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Here is a picture, of the flattened top, and he also has spots on his legs and head vs stripes.

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Yvonne G

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Because it seems he's an escaped pet, I'd not release it. Rather, try to find its owner. I agree it looks more ornata than eastern, though. Do the stripes continue onto the plaston (bottom shell), or is the plastron mostly dark?
 

toad323

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Because it seems he's an escaped pet, I'd not release it. Rather, try to find its owner. I agree it looks more ornata than eastern, though. Do the stripes continue onto the plaston (bottom shell), or is the plastron mostly dark?

There is coloring on his belly, not all dark. Here's a picture of it. I'll post around the area for the owner, but if I don't find them will he be OK in an outdoor housing here in Northern Florida? If he winds up staying with us, I wanted to make an outdoor setup. But I know it does get a little warmer here in the summer (+90°).


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Yvonne G

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The ornates and floridas both have stripes on the plastron, but the eastern usually has a solid dark plastron. I'm wondering f this isn't a very colorful gulf coast. It looks pretty big compared to your hand.

At any rate it should be fine outside in Florida with lots of plants for shade and humidity
 

PJay

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In your area of Florida there is a blend of Florida, Eastern and Gulf Coast box turtles. They can all interbreed. It's a very pretty box turtle and the glitter paint could indicate a long term pet or one that was just kept a few days and got to play dress up during its stay. :D Unless the laws have changed recently, you are allowed to own two box turtles in Florida without a permit, but it is illegal to take one from the wild. You could check with your local state wildlife office to get a ruling on this turtles status due to the paint.
 

toad323

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Does the amount of water he needs depend on what type he is? The ornates are more dry areas but the eastern need more water from what I understand. Should I just set up a pool anyway?
 

PJay

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In captivity, all box turtles with the exception of T. coahuila are essentially the same in regards to an enclosure. They all need a pool of water big enough for them to sit in where they will soak, drink and poop. Keep the combination of drinking and pooping in mind when designing it. It should be easily dumped out and refilled or filtered in some way. They need several options for hiding places such as half logs, dense overhanging plants and areas dug in the ground where they can hide and get out of the heat of the day.
 

Pastel Tortie

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I'm on the east side of Tallahassee, and the poster is a bit west of Tallahassee. I could be wrong, but this turtle doesn't look particularly local to me. It doesn't look like Gulf Coast box turtles typically seen in this part of the Florida Panhandle, and we don't get Florida box turtles (T.c. bauri) this far west, either.

I'm thinking it's a former pet. Possibly even an unintentional release from Hurricane Michael.
 

MichaelL

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It looks like a mix of Eastern and Florida. It doesn't look to be pure of anything. I would say to keep it as a pet now, because of not knowing for sure if it is wild, and releasing it may cause its death. I personally think the stripes are broader because of the mix with an eastern, and the face looks more eastern but the stripes indicate partial Fl boxie genes. Just my opinion.
 

Pastel Tortie

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If anyone really wants to delve into it, try out the North American Herpetological Education and Research Project at http://www.naherp.com.

Search Records
Group: Turtles
Genus: Terrapene
(In Florida, there is no need to specify which Terrapene species unless you are specifically searching for a subspecies like T.c. bauri. In Florida, all of our native box turtles are some version of Terrapene carolina.)​
Country: United States
State: Florida

The Counties you want to search in for this one are:
  • Jackson County (city of Marianna) and
  • Liberty County (nearby).

Additionally...
  • Gadsden County isn't too far away and might provide some context.
  • Leon County (Tallahassee) isn't too far away and might provide some context.
  • Franklin County isn't that far away, but it's on the coast, where the other counties I listed are inland.
There are other nearby counties, but the original poster lives in a rural part of the western half of the Florida Panhandle, and there isn't data on boxie sightings in some of their other nearby counties.

As much as I would love to see Florida box turtles (Terrapene carolina bauri) in my neck of the woods, the closest the N.A. H.E.R.P. database Search Records shows them is in Dixie, Levy, and Alachua counties (Gainesville area). Not nearly close enough for those of us this far west.
 
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HermanniChris

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It’s an intergrade. More common than most think, especially in parts of Florida and Georgia. This particular animal is either T. c. bauri X T. c. carolina or T. c. bauri X T. c. triunguis or may even have T. c. major in it.
Ornata would be out of the question. Only DNA can actually reveal solidification as to its true lineage.
 
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