Box Turtle Lifespan: How Long Do Turtles Live?

Box turtles make great pets, and we know you want to give your turtle the best life ever.

But how long will that life be?

Key Takeaway:

The average box turtle’s lifespan is between 25 and 35 years. But it is not unusual for box turtles to live for 50 years or even longer.

How long your pet turtles live will depend on their species. Find out more about the box turtle life cycle and how to improve it in this article.

box turtle old

Box Turtle Lifespan

We all love our box turtles and want them to live long and happy lives.

But how long can we really expect that life to be?

Box turtles are pretty impressive. Their average life cycle is between 25 and 35 years.

And the best part is, it is not unusual for a box turtle to live for even longer than that. Some live for 50 years and more!

Yep, box turtles just love life.

So, what are the different stages of a box turtle’s life?

Here is a list of some of the milestones he’ll reach.

  • A box turtle is a baby up until it is about 5 years old. (At this age, it will measure 3 to 5 inches long.)
  • It reaches sexual maturity at 5 years old (It reaches its adult size at this age, about 5 to 7 inches long.)
  • It becomes an adult at about 10 to 13 years old
  • It goes into old age at about 25 to 30 years old

Male and Female Box Turtles

Female box turtles measure between 6 and 7 inches long. The males measure about 5 to 6 inches.

Yeah, that’s right, the females are bigger than the males! The box turtle kingdom is made up of strong women – no one can mess with them!

The thickness of a box turtle’s tail will help you see if it is a male or female. The males have shorter and thicker tails than the females.

The shape of the turtle’s body will also help you identify its gender. Males have a concave plastron while the female’s is flat.

How Long Do Box Turtles Live?

Pet box turtles make awesome lifelong companions. The average box turtle’s life cycle is between 25 and 35 years, but he may go on to live for even longer.

There are reports of box turtles living for over 50 and even over 100 years. Yep, they might even outlive their owners!

There are so many different species of box turtles out there with slightly different life expectancies.

So, how does the breed of the turtle change its lifespan?

Let’s find out.

Species of Box TurtleAverage Life Cycle
Eastern box turtle50 to 100 years
Ornate box turtle30 to 40 years
Gulf coast box turtle100 years (but only 40 in captivity)
Florida box turtle25 to 30 years
Desert box turtle30 to 40 years
Spotted box turtle100 years

Some species of turtles are still a mystery to us.

Take, for example, the Coahuilan box turtle. This box turtle spends 90% of its time in the water.

Because of this, it is extremely hard to study, and we still do not know how long this turtle’s lifespan is. There are other species of wild turtles that we need to investigate further to find out more about them.

Captive box turtles do not tend to live as long as turtles in the wild. But there are some species, such as Eastern box and other species of box turtles, that live longer in captivity.

Box Turtle Habitats: Where Do Box Turtles Live?

Are you as big of a fan of turtles as we are?

Then you’re no doubt keen to find out more about these interesting pets and where they live in the wild.

In this section, we’ll be discussing box turtle habitats by their species. Here you’ll find out where several species of turtles like to live and where they originated.

Ornate Box Turtle

North American box turtles (also known as Ornate box turtles and Terrapene Ornata) are native to the great plains of the United States. They were first discovered in Nebraska in 1795.

This turtle has a domed carapace and a hinged plastron. His shell is dark brown with yellow stripes.

The female has 3 to 8 eggs in her nest several times a year, and they take about 8 to 10 years to mature.

Common Box Turtle

The Common box turtle (Terrapene Carolina) lives in the eastern part of the United States and Mexico. There are 6 subspecies of this turtle.

This box turtle has a brown or olive-brown shell. Its shell often has decorative yellow markings on it.

The female will lay eggs between May and July. It usually takes 50 to 90 days for her 4 to 5 eggs to hatch.

Florida Box Turtle

Florida box turtles in the wild like to live in damp wetlands, marshlands, and swamps. You are most likely to find these animals in Florida and southeastern Georgia, US.

This turtle has a narrow and highly domed shell that sets it apart from other types of box turtles. A female in the wild will lay between 3 and 8 eggs per year.

Eastern Box Turtle

Yep, you guessed it! Eastern box turtles are native to the eastern part of the United States. These animals like to live in forest regions and open grasslands.

This turtle has a brown shell with yellow marks all over it. In the wild, it will lay 3 to 8 eggs per clutch.

box turtle

Three-Toed Box Turtle

The three-toed box turtle is the state reptile of Missouri, and it is native to south-central regions of the United States. In the wild, these animals live in grasslands and woodlands near bodies of water.

The three-toed box turtles get their name thanks to the three toes on their hind legs.

The shell of this turtle is dome-shaped and olive-brown or brown in color. It has yellow or orange lines on the main body of the shell.

What Is the Average Lifespan of a Box Turtle?

We always admire the longevity of box turtles.

They’re pets that will accompany you for most of your life. And hey, in some cases, they might even outlive you!

The average lifespan of a box turtle is between 25 and 35 years. But many species of turtles live for a lot longer than that.

Some are able to live for 100 years!

A captive turtle may not be able to survive for as long as one in the wild. For example, Gulf Coast box turtles live for only 40 years in captivity, whereas wild turtles can live for 100 years.

Now that’s impressive.

How Long Do Eastern Box Turtles Live?

Eastern box turtles have a really long lifespan. If their overall health is good, they can live anywhere between 50 to 100 years!

Each year, thousands of box turtles are taken from their natural habitats and brought into the pet trade.

When you look after them well, these pet turtles can live for as long as 100 years in captivity. In the wild, these turtles often have shorter lifespans because of disease and dangers from predators.

There are a number of ways to make sure your Eastern box pets live for as long as possible. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Your Box Turtle’s Enclosure

To avoid health problems, your Eastern box buddy needs to live in a habitat that will meet his needs. Here’s what you must remember.

  • He needs high humidity. His environment must be 80% humidity above his head and 98% below or as close to saturation as possible.
  • He likes to burrow. Make his substrate out of paper materials like newspapers or paper towels.
  • He needs a basking area, warm temperatures, and vertical and horizontal thermal gradients. One end of the enclosure must be between 84 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit. The other end should be between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Yup, your pet sure likes it toasty.
  • A T5 HO fluorescent UVB lamp is essential. A UV light will ensure he gets the vitamin D he needs.
box turtle enclosure


Your turtles need constant access to clean, fresh water. Put the water in a large dish so they can use it for both drinking and bathing as they would in the wild.

Turtles live in a warm environment, so they like a little splish splash now and then. A bathing dish big enough for your turtle to move around in is essential.

After all, what home is really complete without a swimming pool?

Your Eastern Box Turtle’s Diet

To make sure your pet lives as long as possible, you need to give him the right food items. His diet should consist of the following insects.

  • Crickets
  • Worms
  • Beetles
  • Cockroaches

Those might not be the kind of ingredients we would choose for a hearty dinner, but your turtles will love them. A balanced diet for a pet turtle in captivity will also include the following fruit and vegetables.

  • Mixed berries
  • Leafy greens
  • Mushrooms
  • Apples
  • Grapes

Your turtle will also need to snack on fish and occasionally on high-quality moist dog food. Include commercial box turtle food and plant matter in his diet.


Young turtles in the wild often have vivid colors on their shells. Eastern box turtles are famous for their brown shells with bright yellow markings.

When the turtles are taken into captivity, those bright colors often fade.

In the past, people thought the colors naturally faded as the turtle’s age increased. But the fading colors are actually due to a lack of sunlight available to turtles in captivity.

To combat this, you will need to regularly give your pet turtle a multivitamin and calcium supplement, as well as make sure he has enough access to UV lighting. Give him these supplements mixed in with his food. Calcium supplements are available in powder form for you to dust over his live food.

Your Box Turtle’s Long and Happy Lifespan

Box turtles live for, on average, 25 to 35 years, but it is not unusual for them to live even longer than that. Some have reached 50 years of age and even longer.

So what’s the key to a happy, long lifespan?

Thanks to this article, we’ve seen that your turtle can live a long life in captivity if you put him in the right enclosure. Giving him access to clean water and feeding him the right food and supplements will also help him live a long and happy life.

Did you find the information in this article interesting?

At Oddly Cute Pets, we are always striving to provide you with the best information about box turtles and other awesome animals. So, for more guides on the best animal care, take a look at our website.

Thanks for reading!

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