By Katherine Clement, Chief Naturalist
As you’re walking along the trails at Peaks View Park or the Blackwater Creek Trail this month, you may get a close up encounter of an Eastern Box Turtle. These turtles are especially active right now as it is their nesting season.
Nesting occurs from May–July in Virginia. The female will make a nest from leaf litter and lay between 3–8 eggs per clutch. Check out our Instagram page to watch a turtle laying eggs in one of our parks!
This terrestrial turtle reaches a maximum length of 8 inches and has a distinctive yellow and brown domed shell. They can be found in wooded areas such as mixed oak-pine woods, hardwood forest and even agricultural areas.
As an omnivore they eat both plants and meat. Their diet may consist of berries, leaves, mayapples, slugs, salamanders and mushrooms.
The Nature Zone has a resident box turtle, Lil’ Bit. He enjoys walks around the center and blueberries. He was brought to us after being kept as a pet from a hatchling. As he lived his whole life in captivity, he cannot be released into the wild due to Virginia state regulations.
Fun Fact: These box turtles may live up to 100 years old!
This means if you pick up a box turtle and bring it home, you better be prepared for it to outlive you.
Please help our wildlife remain wild and watch wildlife from a distance. Do not pick up any wild critters you see on the trails. They may be cute but the parks and trails are their home.
If you experience a wildlife conflict or see a conflict in action please call the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources toll-free wildlife conflict helpline at 1-855-571-9003.
Visit the Nature Zone for free on Fridays and Saturdays from 12:00pm–4:00pm!