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Borderline Florida Box Turtles by Richard Bartlett on 2020-08-03 08:50:38


This box turtle is intermediate in color between the eastern and the Florida subspecies.

Like so many of Floridaís herps, Florida Box turtles, Terrapene carolina baurii, are no longer as frequently seen as once. Of course, when you stop to consider the very real reduction in natural habitat in the state of Florida, the immense increase in the traffic volume, and the slow, plodding gait of the turtle itself, this seeming reduction of the creature seems explicableóunfortunate but explicable. Of course the inexplicable segment in all of this is the deliberate destruction of road-crossing box (and other) turtles by the ROAD-IDIOTS that just have to prove that they know where each tire can do the most destruction to crossing wildlife.

But I digress. In the quarter century that Iíve lived in North Central Florida, I had seen what I thought to be a fair number in the earlier years and many fewer FL box turtles of late. An occasional one still wanders across our property or is seen elsewhere while Iím out scouring the roads and trails for photographable herps. And I see fewer still at the supposed point intergradation of the Florida box with the Eastern Box, basically at the St Maryís River. And what have I found there?

The changes Iíve seen are gradual, not immediate as is often seen on range maps.South of the St. Maryís Iíve see a couple that were obviously closer to an eastern than a Florida and a couple that have been just the opposite. Since Iíve never found any immediately north of the river I can make no statements regarding them. But staying south of the river and moving a bit further westward Iíve found 3 that are showing more signs of one subspecies than the other. Two have been judged on color and one has been on conformation, the latter meaning that when the turtle was viewed from above it was proportionately broader than a typical Florida box.

So what does all of this mean? Why nothing at all, but these facts did seem interesting at the time. Have you got any data to add? If so, send it along. Iíd be interested in knowing your thoughts.
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