Stay in the know about wildlife, water quality, and ecosystems on Sanibel and Captiva Islands and in Southwest Florida

SCCF-Tagged Box Turtle Found on Pine Island

October 25, 2023
Fb Post Box Turtle

Recently, a Pine Island resident posted photos of a Florida box turtle (Terrapene bauri) on a Pine Island Facebook page because they had never seen the species locally and were wondering if it was someone’s lost pet.

Immediately after that, people started responding that it was a native species to the area and to let it go. Luckily, someone noticed that the turtle had peculiar marks (round holes) on the ends of the shell.

Others picked up on this and started commenting that this turtle must be part of a research project, as turtles are often marked with scute notching as an identification method. The marking also serves as a deterrence to poachers because notched turtles likely have an identification microchip implanted as part of the study.

SCCF was notified within an hour of the posting and the turtle ended up being a Sanibel turtle that was last processed in 2021 as part of its Box Turtle Project.

“This is the second instance of a box turtle being found post-Hurricane Ian somewhere else. The first one was found in a saltwater canal in Cape Coral,” said Wildlife & Habitat Management Director Chris Lechowicz. “Although many of our study turtles ended up weathering the storm fine on Sanibel, we are confident a good number of turtles got swept off the island and ended up in other places.”

Such movement due to storms is considered natural colonization and is a reminder of just one of the methods by which wildlife inhabit the islands of Pine Island Sound.

Many of these movements are human-influenced due to the transportation of goods such as plants, sod, mulch, or dirt. Other translocations are incidental such as a beetle, frog, or lizard hiding in a crevice in a vehicle or on luggage. Other times, pets escape or are released intentionally, often with good intent by the owner, but without knowledge of the risks to other wildlife.

If you see a box turtle, please take a picture and notify us at 239-472-3984, or email


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