The Box Turtle has many predators, especially baby box turtles. Baby Box Turtles are preyed on by almost every creature in their area, from coyotes,
raccoons, skunks, wild pigs, turkeys, possums, fox, weasels, birds, snakes, cats, dogs, chickens, and even other Box Turtles. Even with baby Box Turtles being very secretive in nature, their chances of reaching adult/breeding age are very slim. Baby Box Turtles’ shells are very soft, and their shells don’t completely become hard until they are seven years old.
Domestic cats and chickens that run free are especially hard on baby Box Turtles. Chickens are always scratching and looking for food; a new
hatchling crawling from a flower bed or mulch pile is easy pickings. Domestic cats are wildlife destroyers and will play to death any thing that catches their attention. With baby Box Turtles not developing their signature hinge that makes them Box Turtles until almost two years of age, they have no protection from them. Adult Box Turtles have also been known to eat baby Box Turtles. Box Turtles are opportunist when it comes to eating, and a moving baby turtle is a quick meal.
Adult Box Turtles have fewer predators than their young counter parts. Raccoons are one of their primary predators in the wild. While their shell is strong enough to protect them from a raccoon encounter, they will occasionally lose a leg to a raccoon. Box Turtles are amazingly resilient and heal from such attacks. Unfortunately, their shells can not protect them from coyotes and larger domestic dogs, which often times chew them to death. Bears have also been known to eat Box Turtles. I do not know if every bear eats them or if it is just on rare occasions. A few years back, a bear hunter friend of mine killed a large male bear. When he cut open the bear’s stomach, there were Box Turtle shell fragments through out his stomach. Wild boar are another animal than can wreck havoc on Box Turtle populations; with their constant rooting behavior and eating all in their path, a Box Turtle has no escape.
One surprising, but increasingly common and invasive threat to Box Turtles, are fire ants. These non-native insects are extremely vicious. Both young and old Box Turtles can fall prey to a fire ant attack. Injured turtles and young turtles are particularly vulnerable. Once the ants start attacking a Box Turtle, there is little a turtle can do to save itself Even closing up it’s shell is no defense against an ant attack. A fire ant attack is a slow, brutal death for the poor Box Turtle.
The most dangerous predator to the Box Turtle, and one that often times leads to fatal encounters, is man. Man causes Box Turtle fatalities by intentionally running over turtles, to people cruelty torturing them for fun, and every encounter in between. Many caring yet misinformed individuals cause Box Turtle deaths every day by not acting in the best interest of the turtles.
Some things to do to help out the Box Turtle against predators.
If you have Box Turtles in your area, be mindful of where you hang bird feeders because feeders attract raccoons. Create safe havens for Box Turtles. These include brush piles, leaf piles, and even large compost piles. Be mindful of your pets, especially large dogs and house cats. Make sure to bell your cats! Even though placing a bell on a cat won’t help a baby box turtle escape, it will definitely help other wild life escape.