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State Reptile: Turtle

by Steven Case, 2007; Kelly Agan, 2016
NC Government & Heritage Library.

See also: Eastern Box Turtle; NCpedia State Reptile activity sheet

Eastern box turtle, image from NC Wildlife Resources Commission. The General Assembly of 1979 designated the turtle (Terrapene carolina) as the official State Reptile for North Carolina. (Session Laws, 1979, c. 154).

§ 145-9.  State reptile.

The turtle is adopted as the official State reptile of the State of North Carolina, and the eastern box turtle is designated as the emblem representing the turtles inhabiting North Carolina. (1979, c. 154, s. 1.)

In the preamble to the bill, the General Assembly listed a number of qualities of the Box Turtle that led to its adoption as the emblem of the state's reptile populations:

"Whereas, the turtle is a most useful creature who serves to control harmful and
pestiferous insects, and acts as one of nature's clean-up crew, helping to preserve the purity and
beauty of our waters; and

Whereas, the turtle is derided by some who have missed the finer things of life, but
in some species has provided food that is a gourmet's delight; and

Whereas, the turtle, which at a superficial glance appears to be a mundane and
uninteresting creature, is actually a most fascinating creature, ranging from species well
adapted to modern conditions to species which have existed virtually unchanged since
prehistoric times; and

Whereas, the turtle watches undisturbed as countless generations of faster hares run
by to quick oblivion, and is thus a model of patience for mankind, and a symbol of this State's
unrelenting pursuit of great and lofty goals; and

Whereas, the woodlands, marshes, and inland and coastal waters of North Carolina
are the abode of many species of turtles; Now, therefore. . ."

More information about the Eastern Box Turtle is available in the Eastern Box Turtle article from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission.

Additional Resources:

Associated Press. "Turtle wins final approval as state reptile." Wilmington Morning Star. March 17, 1979. 7-C. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=XsksAAAAIBAJ&sjid=MxMEAAAAIBAJ&pg=4868%2C3697108 (accessed October 7, 2013).

Bond, Sharon. "Turtle Gets The Nod From State House." The Dispatch [Lexington, N.C.]. March 1, 1979. 12.  http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=Y1UcAAAAIBAJ&sjid=p1EEAAAAIBAJ&pg=7138%2C6079886 (accessed October 7, 2013).

Harden, Leigh Anne. "Meet our State Reptile, the Eastern Box Turtle." North Carolina Herpetological Society. 2006. http://ncherps.org/state-herp-symbols/ (accessed October 28, 2014).

Subjects: 

Comments

Comment: 

Whey did the box turtle become the state reptile??? Please answer soon

Comment: 

Hi,

Thanks for visiting NCpedia and asking this question.

Here is the preamble to the bill that adopted the Box Turtle as the State Turtle.  It gives some more information about why the General Assembly decided to select the Box Turtle as the reptile representing the reptiles of the state:

"Whereas, the turtle is a most useful creature who serves to control harmful and
pestiferous insects, and acts as one of nature's clean-up crew, helping to preserve the purity and
beauty of our waters; and

Whereas, the turtle is derided by some who have missed the finer things of life, but
in some species has provided food that is a gourmet's delight; and

Whereas, the turtle, which at a superficial glance appears to be a mundane and
uninteresting creature, is actually a most fascinating creature, ranging from species well
adapted to modern conditions to species which have existed virtually unchanged since
prehistoric times; and

Whereas, the turtle watches undisturbed as countless generations of faster hares run
by to quick oblivion, and is thus a model of patience for mankind, and a symbol of this State's
unrelenting pursuit of great and lofty goals; and

Whereas, the woodlands, marshes, and inland and coastal waters of North Carolina
are the abode of many species of turtles; Now, therefore. . ."

I hope this helps!

Best wishes,

Kelly Agan, N.C. Government & Heritage Library

Comment: 

How did or why did box turtles get the name "box"?

Comment: 

Hi,

Take a look at this information on the Encyclopedia of Life about the box turtle: http://eol.org/pages/1055222/details. The "Description" section mentions why they have the common name, "box turtle."

I hope this helps!

Michelle Underhill, NC Government & Heritage Library

Comment: 

when did the box turtle become a symbol

Comment: 

Hi Rainbowdash,

The legislature designated the box turtle as the state reptile in 1979.  You'll see it above in the articles text.

Thanks for asking!

Kelly Agan, NC Government & Heritage Library

Comment: 

Need more info

Comment: 

you guys have to click the picture and then it gives you more facts.

Comment: 

I agree with whoever this person I'm talking to

Comment: 

true

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