Box Turtle Project
In September 2018, RCI received a shipment of several dozen eastern box turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina) from US Fish & Wildlife. These animals had been confiscated from the baggage of people attempting to smuggle them out of the US, presumably to fuel an international market that values turtles as exotic pets, food, and folk remedies. Upon learning of the turtles and their need to relocate to a permanent home, we at RCI constructed a large (50’ x 100’) fenced turtle-friendly habitat on the grounds. The habitat has a mix of sun and shade, and the fence is sunken to prevent the turtles from burrowing out.
We took advantage of large stones to build shaded areas, and dug out two areas for earthworm farms, which are stocked regularly. We also built a pond with running fresh water to keep the turtles hydrated. Although there was some early mortality, probably due to long captivity prior to their relocation, the turtles are all doing well and have adapted to their new lives. Their diet, along with earthworms, includes local flora and fauna (we once saw a turtle kill and eat a centipede), supplemented with their favorites: fresh bananas, strawberries and blueberries, melon, peppers, and corn on the cob.
We Are All Tortoises
–Scientific American opinion piece by Andrea Gore