Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. A box turtle is easily recognized by its carapace: its high-domed shell. While related to common aquatic turtles, a box turtle is adapted for life on land. By having a high-domed carapace, a box turtle is slower to heat up when it's out in the sun, and also slower to cool off. The name 'box turtle' comes from the hinge on the underside of a box turtle shell. A box turtle can pull its legs, tail and head in and close up tightly to escape most predators. The eastern box turtle can be found from Maine to South Florida and from the Atlantic to the Great Plains. It's easily identified by the pattern of yellow spots and lines on its dark brown back. On its underside, the eastern box turtle's plastron, or belly shell, ranges from a yellowish horn color to nearly black, sometimes patterned with dark and light blotches. The ornate box turtle of the Great Plains is easily distinguished from the eastern box turtle by its striking pattern of yellow lines on its dark belly. Ornate box turtles are sometimes available in pet stores, and occasionally, an escaped pet can be found in the wild in Florida.'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.