Earthshine Mountain Lodge and Earthshine Nature Programs presents: Turtle Tracks--a unique Eastern Box Turtle Conservation, Research, Rescue, Rehabilitation, and Education Program.

Earthshine Nature Programs is working with The Turtle Connection (BTC) research project to collect census, habitat and movement data on the Eastern Box Turtle in North Carolina.

The primary purpose of the "Turtle Tracks" research project is to learn more about Eastern Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina) on the property of Earthshine Mountain Lodge and on one other sites nearby. Why you may ask? There are several reasons.

Photo by Aaron Weed.

1. Discovery. Where does a box turtle go, what it does it do? What different types of food does it eat? How many different types of habitat does it use? How does it react when humans alter its habitat for their habitat needs? How does a box turtle respond if it is moved out of dangers way and/or into a similar but new habitat? These are all questions that the Turtle Tracks study is working to help answer. The data generated by this study is valuable information for naturalists, herpetologists and wildlife conservationists who will be able to use this information to better understand and manage box turtle populations in their local areas and across their entire range.

Photo by Aaron Weed.

2. Education. The Turtle Tracks program offers excellent nature education opportunities for Earthshine's visitors that are interested in learning about the plight faced by the Eastern Box Turtle and it's vanishing habitat and what we can do to help our State Reptile. This program also introduces the participants to the other native plants and animals that share habitat with the box turtle as well as wildlife research and management techniques and science education opportunities.

Photo by Aaron Weed.

3. Hands on, exciting and fun experiential learning. It is one thing to read about wildlife in a book or watch it on TV but to actually get the chance to go out in the field and assist with wildlife study and research--now that leaves a lasting impression on a person--an impression that may grow into a passion for studying, preserving and protecting wildlife and their habitats from our own back yard to entire ecosystems.

Photo by Aaron Weed.

While tracking turtles may seem a bit boring and slow compared to oh...Tiger, Elephant or Crocodile tracking...it really is a fascinating way to study the life of a very shy, secretive and very endearing creature--a creature whose very existence is threatened by the day to day activities of humans.

Photo by Aaron Weed.

How does it work? First we have to find several resident box turtles on the property of Earthshine. We usually find the turtles by accident as someone is driving along the driveway, walking to one of our many "outdoor classroom" areas on the property or a guest may find one and bring it back to the lodge. Occasionally, our friend John Rucker will bring his specially trained "Turtle Dogs" to Earthshine to locate turtles by their scent--this is truly an amazing thing to watch so check it out in the short video below or read more about it on turtledogs.org!

After we find a turtle we collect location, health and measurement data and then usually release the turtle where it was found and hope to see it again one day. A few special turtles have received micro-radio telemetry transmitters to facilitate the periodic tracking of their movements, habitat use and interactions with other turtles and wildlife on the mountain.

Transmitters will be attached to each turtle's shell by using a glue-on method that will not harm the animal. The attachment method is similar to the artificial fingernails many women wear. Once attached, the transmitter will appear as in the above photo of Bones or the below photo of Mojo. Placement will depend on the weight of the turtle, weight of the transmitter and sex of the turtle. Males, such as Bones and Mojo may have their transmitters mounted on the top or back of the shell but females must have their transmitter mounted on the front or side so it will not interfere with mating. Transmitters will stay attached for up to several years until the battery needs to be replaced. They will then be replaced with a fresh unit and tracking will continue.

For more detailed information on our tracking equipment and procedures click HERE.

Eastern Box Turtles currently being tracked.

NOTE: Field Notes, tracking data, photos and videos will be updated periodically so pages may not be current.







"Mrs. BONES"










Sign up for the Earthshine Nature Notes and Turtle Tracks Newsletter and receive regular email updates on all of the nature related events at Earthshine as well as updates on the status of the turtles in the Turtle Tracks research project...as well as turtle and wildlife news and trivia from around the world! Newsletters will be in the form of a periodic email so sign up now!

Earthshine Nature, Turtle Tracks, R & R Box Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation and our other conservation education programs operate primarily on donations from private supporters. If you are interested helping us fund these wonderful conservation education projects and would like to become a part of them by donating or adopting (sponsoring) a box turtle, snake, lizard and even a toad please click the photo-link below.

Check out "For the Turtles" below. It is a video compilation of the greatest moments of the 2008 Turtle Tracks season!

Photo by Aaron Weed.

"To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering." - Aldo Leopold

Read about my previous Eastern box turtle research HERE.

Do you mow your grass or fields on a semi-regular basis? If you do you may be endangering box turtles. Read more about how you can help box turtles on your land HERE.

Check out this page if you are you interested in ideas on how you can provide more homes and habitat for box turtles and other wildlife on your land.

NOTE: Please do not attempt to radio-track a turtle or other wild animal on your own. Radio telemetric wildlife study is a very specialized discipline. First and foremost is the safety and correct treatment of the animals being studied and secondly it takes years of study to learn the "how to" of the use of radio telemetry equipment and other data collection equipment.

Please contact us if have a question or an injured or displaced box turtle (local to the WNC area) that is in need of a little R & R or if you are interested in becoming a part of The Earthshine Turtle Tracks program.


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