When it comes to understanding Box Turtle behavior, keep in mind that they are not an aquatic species – they spend most of their time on land, but they do need to soak in water from time to time. Overall, this is a gentle and friendly species, but one should never underestimate their wild instincts – and they will bite should they feel threatened. Most are pretty docile and it is generally safe to pick them up, but avoid handling them or picking them up too often. Turtles are not fond of being handled too much, and they can lash out if stressed. Much of the stress that captive Box Turtles breed experience in conditions of captivity include: drastic changes in the environment and improper or poor captive conditions.
Box Turtles Behavior and Temperament
Box Turtles are so called because of their distinctive behavior of retracting inside their shell and completely closing up using the movable hinge on their lower shell. No flesh is left exposed when this happens, and the Box Turtle has literally “boxed itself up” – usually in response to one form of perceived threat or another. In general, Box Turtles would far prefer retreating into their shell to protect themselves rather than aggressively biting or lashing out against threats.
It is never recommended for young children to handle Box Turtles – or if they should do so, the children should be closely supervised to ensure that no harm is caused to either child or turtle. Children can often be brusque in their handling of small creatures, and they can end up harming the turtle. Box Turtles are living, breathing creatures – they are not toys, and their temperament does not really necessitate a need for games or “play.”
On the other hand, you should also ensure that children do not engage in unsafe practices such as kissing a turtle or putting their hands or fingers to their mouths after handling one. Proper hygiene should always be practiced around turtles in order to keep down the chances of transmission of bacteria that can be harmful to humans.