As we’ve reported, Lionel the Box Turtle escaped from the Inwood Nature Center on December 1st to little fanfare. Poor Lionel. Cobras and peacocks are just flashier than turtles. But the little guy is still missing, out in the urban jungle. We’ve decided to deepen our investigation into where Lionel could be.
First: what are box turtles? A box turtle is a type of turtle that has a hinge at the bottom of its shell that enables it to hide all of its flesh from predators. It is the state reptile of North Carolina. Box turtles resemble tortoises, but are actually more closely related to aquatic turtles. Lionel is an Eastern Box Turtle. While they vary in size and shape, they are known for their bright red eyes.
Since Lionel’s escape, temperatures in New York have ranged from 37 to 63 degrees Fahrenheit. According to Turtle Puddle, box turtles don’t do well when the temperature drops below 60 degrees. They also face a great many dangers out and about in the world. Davidson College’s website on the box turtle states a wide variety of concerns for box turtles. Slow movers, they are often hit by cars and trains, or are accidentally killed by farm equipment. The farm equipment thing might not be too much of a concern for Lionel, but there are just a few cars and trains in New York City.
Box turtles do tend to hibernate in the winter, so there is a chance that Lionel has safely burrowed himself in the ground. His Twitter offers no new information. We are waiting for comment from the Inwood Nature Center.
If you see a turtle running around with freaky red eyes, call 311!
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 13, 2011