The Common Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina)

This little guy was recently found on Ruffner Mountain. Box turtles are quite common at Ruffner, as they are over much of North America. The Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina), pictured here, and the three-toed box turtle, are the two most common subspecies of box turtle in Alabama. They have a dome-like carapace and a hinged plastron (that's the shell covering the belly) which allows for complete enclosure, creating a sort of closed box, hence the name "box" turtle. Box turtles usually live extremely long lives, and they are slow to develop; this fact, coupled with their propensity for few offspring, make box turtles particularly susceptible to human-induced mortality. So, the next time you're on the trail or the road, look out for our reptile friends!