In Colorado, the ornate box turtle inhabits the grasslands of the Platte River Valley. This area is largely developed for agriculture, which limits the areas in which the turtles can survive.
Box turtle populations require large tracts of this land to sustain populations over time. Canals, railroad tracks, roads, and some fences can limit population movement, reducing gene flow within an otherwise healthy population. There are, fortunately, large tracts of land that are used for cattle grazing and oil and gas extraction that may also support box turtle populations.
Habitat suitable for box turtles is often sandy soil, dotted with sagebrush, native grasses, and other prairie plants. Turtles often eat dung beetles and other invertebrates attracted to cow dung.
As the development of Colorado's Front Range continues to expand eastward, box turtles could face a dire situation. As we discover and learn what a stable population needs in terms of area and land features, we are better postioned to protect these turtles.