Lifestyle and Lifespan
Males are a bright yellow with a greenish-yellow back, greenish wings and tail, and chestnut patches on the nape and chest. Females are a duller yellowish-olive with dusky streaks along the back, a yellowish strip above the eye, and a pale buffy-yellow underside.
The Three-Toed Box Turtle has a tan or olive carapace with darker seams and some vague markings. They also have orange, red and yellow spots on their head and forelimbs.The defining characteristic of this turtle is its toes. It has three toes on its back feet, thus why its known as the Three Toed Box Turtle. Hybrid Three Toed Box Turtles who have been interbred with Common Box Turtles sometimes have four toes instead of three. Sexual Dimorphism: males are larger. Males are slightly larger on average, the posterior lobe of their plastron is concave, and the claws on their hind legs are short, thick and curved. Males also have thicker and longer tails. Females' rear claws are longer, straighter and more slender, and the posterior lobe of their plastron is flat or slightly convex. There are four subspecies of Terrapene carolina in the United States. Terrapene carolina bauri (Florida Box Turtle) lives on the peninsula of Florida. Terrapene c. major (Gulf Coast Box Turtle) ranges from the panhandle of Florida westward along the Gulf cost to eastern Texas. Terrapene c. triunguis (Three-toed Box Turtle) lives in the Mississippi River Valley from northern Missouri southward across southeastern Kansas and eastern Oklahoma into southcentral Texas; and southeastward across western Tennessee and Georgia to the coastal lowlands.
As seed eaters, these birds have especially short and thick bills that are perfect for cracking the outer hulls open.
Open woodland, forests, swamps, and riparian areas. They generally nest in marshes and swamps and rely on drier adjacent habitat during non-breeding season.
Taveta Golden Weavers have a restricted range within southeastern Kenya and northeastern Tanzania but are common within their range. Populations can be quite localized but large numbers of individuals are present at sites where they occur.
These birds are primarily seed-eaters, but will also feed on grasses and insects.
Omnivore. Their diet is heavy in seeds but they do hunt live prey (mostly insects), especially when feeding their nestlings.
Like most reptiles, activity is temperature dependent, preferring conditions that are moist, humid, and warm. Ideal temperature is 80-95°F and they are more active during rainy periods and immediately after it has rained. During drought, turtles may spend time in burrows and in excessive heat turtles will seek out shallow pools of water to soak in. In fall months turtles are observed basking in the sunlight for energy. In Northern climates turtles will enter hibernation in late October. In places like Florida, turtles are active year around.
Colonial living is a fantastic adaptation for predator avoidance. With many sets of eyes always keeping watch, the first bird to spot a predator can alert the others so that as many individuals as possible escape and survive.
Taveta Golden Weavers live in large colonies and are assumed to be polygynous.
Breeding occurs September through May. Males use their strong claws and bill to weave elaborate nests from long strands of grass. These nests are carefully constructed and tightly woven. Females will choose a male to mate with based on the nest he has built, and will line the inside of the nest with grass or other soft material before laying 2-3 olive green eggs.
2-3 nestlings are fed insects and other live food by their mother before fledging at approximately 14 days.
Currently listed as Least Concern by IUCN.
Due to a widespread, consistent and persistent decline of the species, the ICUN considers the Box Turtle to be a Vulnerable Species. The decline is associated with anthropogenic causes, or manmade causes centering on urbanization. Agricultural use of pesticides within a shared water shed has negatively impacted young turtle survivability due to malformed eggs. Introduction of synanthopic predator species, (species who live near and benefit mutually from human settlement and urban habitats) such as ravens, coyotes and raccoons, are increasing in numbers as humans continue to urbanize.
Introduced Non-Native, Domestic, and Invasive Species
Please be aware of the pets you choose to buy. Never get a pet that has been taken from the wild and never return a pet to the wild. Be aware of pesticide applications so as to not poison native animals that benefit your ecosystem. Finally, be conscious of your trash and waste so as to not attract unwanted animals such as ravens.
Although weavers are considered songbirds, the Taveta Golden Weaver’s song is not pleasing to human ears and is often described as “harsh” and “tuneless”.
It is not uncommon to multiple mated pairs to build a single large, elaborate nest with many apartment-like chambers.
There currently three recognized subfamilies of weaverbirds. Taveta Golden Weavers are considered part of the “true” weaver subfamily based on their behavior of weaving nests from thin strips of plant material.
Of all the Gerrhosaururidae lizards (Plated lizards) they are the most armored.
Williams, J.G.; Arlott, N. The Collins Field Guide to the Birds of East Africa. The Stephen Greene Press, 1980.
De Silva, Thilina & Peterson, Andrew & Fernando, Sumudu & Bates, John & D Marks, Ben & G. Girard, Matthew. (2016). Phylogenetic relationships of weaverbirds (Aves: Ploceidae): A first robust phylogeny based on mitochondrial and nuclear markers. Molecular phylogenetics and evolution. 109. . 10.1016/j.ympev.2016.12.013.