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Eastern Box Turtle Breeding Program

Starting in 2019 a cooperative program between RIDEM Division of Fish and Wildlife and the Roger Williams Park Zoo was started to house and breed eastern box turtles (Terrapene c. carolina), a Rhode Island native species.

Why is the Eastern Box Turtle Endangered?

Loss of habitat, poaching for the illegal pet trade, and road mortality.

Eastern Box Turtle: Why Does it Matter?

Box turtles are seed dispersers of mayapple, wild berry, and other fruiting plant species, which helps create and ensure healthy forests.

The Cooperative Conservation Project

A Closer Look

The scenario in which box turtles are taken from the wild to keep as pets and subsequently surrendered to wildlife clinics is common. It is usually challenging to justify releasing these animals for various reasons (e.g., unknown areas of collection, the potential for disease, etc.). However, the possibility exists in many cases for these individual turtles to serve as breeders for conservation programs.

The Division of Fish and Wildlife would like to explore the possibility of creating a program in which “unreleasable” box turtles are housed and bred by the Roger Williams Park Zoo at their facilities with the ultimate intent of headstarting and releasing young turtles with a genetic heritage of Rhode Island origin into the wild.

Questions? Contact Louis Perrotti, Director of Conservation Programs at or call (401) 785-3510 ext. 335.

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