Bruce Explains Box Turtles: Shell Color

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Bruce, displaying the lovely olive-tan shell, bright orange cheek patches, ivory face and neck skin and wonderful olive-and-tan dot pattern on his front legs and feet.

3 toed box turtles don’t look like other species of box turtles.

Not only do they have 3 toes on each of their back feet (instead of 4 or 5 toes per foot like other species of box turtles), but they also have different shell and skin colors.

To further complicate matters, boy 3 toed box turtles have different coloration than girl 3 toed box turtles. Sometimes. Often. But this, too, can vary.

For people who are used to seeing box turtles with very colorful shells and lots of markings and patterns, a 3 toed box turtle can almost look like an albino at first glance, with its smooth, pattern-free olive-tan shell.

But these turtles aren’t albino – they are 3 toed. So their shell color is just right for their box turtle species.

Where 3 toed box turtles do display lots of interesting coloration is in their eyes and on their skin…or at least boy 3 toed box turtles do. For example, Bruce has bright red eyes and striking orange cheek patches that stand out from his ivory skin on his face and neck.

He also has a wonderful olive-and-tan dot pattern on his legs and feet.

Lady 3 toed box turtles don’t typically have these kinds of colors, favoring a more muted presentation with brown-tinted eyes and no colorful neck or cheek patches.

And remember….

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Published by Shannon Cutts

Cockatiel, redfoot tortoise & box turtle mama. Pet & people blogger.

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