Eastern Box Turtle – “Find wonder in everything, even the most common”


These words, immortalized in Latin, are engraved upon Carl Linnaeus’ grave stone.  Linnaeus saw the complexity of the world, and succeeded in devising a system to name every living thing on Earth.  He sought to see the trees from the forest, more specifically, the box turtle from the Chelonian (or terepen as was common in his day,) and to accomplish that, each creature needed a name.

Recently, Kiawah resident Linda Mchugh came across a magnificent specimen that goes by the title Terrapene carolina carolina or to us laymen folk, Eastern Box Turtle.  Found on the 10th fairway of the Turtle Point Golf Course.   Of all the turtles in North America, the box turtle is probably the most easily identified by the common man.  They played an iconic role in my childhood, as I’m sure they did in many others’.

This “common” box turtle in particular may not be all that “wondrous” at first glance (even though it is the prettiest wild specimen I’ve ever seen), but this is a rare find on Kiawah.  In fact, the 1970’s environmental studies done on Kiawah, no live box turtles were found.  Scientists were only able to document their presence by the old shells they found.  I’d like to think this box turtle and many unseen friends have been thriving right underneath our noses.

If you are fortunate enough to find an Eastern Box Turtle on our island, please take a photos and report your sightings to the Heron Park Nature Center so that your observation can be recorded and used for future study.