Desert-box Turtle

Desert Box Turtle

Terrapene ornata

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Great Southwest


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Biography

In the cool of the morning, a desert box turtle basks in the sun and begins looking for food. Although it eats mostly insects, the turtle also eats plants, including berries, grasses, and cactus. It even searches through cow dung for beetles and consumes carrion. By the heat of midday, the turtle seeks shelter in the shade. When threatened, the hinged lower plastron can close completely against the upper carapace. This adaptation allows the turtle to withdraw its more delicate head and legs and enclose them within a protective box.

Our Animal's Story

Yertle, the desert box turtle, is temporarily exhibited in the nocturnal section of the Great Southwest building. She hatched in 1997 and has a long life ahead of her at ZooAmerica!

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