8 Turtles With Red Eyes (Interesting Facts)

The majority of turtle species can live up to 100 years old, making them one of the fascinating reptiles. You can also find these creatures in freshwater, the ocean, and on land. Not only that, there are some turtles with red eyes, which distinguishes them from other turtle species.

Although scientists are still trying to figure out the cause of this, the fact that males typically have red eyes makes it possible for people to tell them apart from females. There are 356 turtle species known to mankind, but only a few of them have natural red eyes. If you’re wondering what kind of turtles they are, here’s a list of 8 turtles with this characteristic.

8 Turtles with red eyes

1. Eastern box turtles

Eastern box turtle
Eastern box turtle | Image by Dede from Pixabay

Scientific Name: Terrapene carolina carolina

Eastern box turtles are a type of reptile found in the eastern United States and Canada. They can be found near fields, ponds, meadows, and woodlands. These omnivorous turtles primarily consume flowers, roots, berries, eggs, insects, and other amphibians.

Young eastern box turtles are much more carnivorous, foraging for food in ponds. They can grow up to 5 inches long and have dark brown shells with orange or yellow markings. Additionally, these animals have red eyes, which are more common in males than in females; females typically have brown eyes.

2. Gulf Coast box turtle

Gulf coast box turtle
Gulf coast box turtle | image by Quadell NPS via Wikimedia Commons

Scientific Name: Terrapene carolina major

The Gulf Coast box turtle is another turtle species with red eyes. It’s a type of turtle that lives along the Gulf coast of the United States. Turtles are most commonly found in Louisiana, Florida, and Mexico.

These turtles are usually found near water sources. When the cold season arrives, it stays in shallow waters and hibernates. They eat a variety of plants, fruits, and insects.

These species also consume worms, snails, and slugs. Like other box turtles, they have red eyes that differentiate them from other turtles. They’re also the largest box turtle species, reaching up to 8 inches in length.

3. Northern spotted turtle

Scientific Name: Terrapene nelsoni klauberi

Northern spotted box turtles are small to medium-sized turtles with bright red eyes. They’re a rare species found only in Mexico’s Sierra Madre Occidental.

Their name comes from the light spots that are seen on their dark brown shells. They can also reach a length of 5 inches.

This species prefers to live near water and can be found in shallow areas of ponds and lakes, where they stay hydrated. Their diet consists primarily of insects, snails, cockroaches, and crickets. These spotted turtles also consume fallen fruit, grass, and moss in their natural environment.

4. Three-toed box turtle

Three-toed box turtle
Three-toed box turtle | image by Wilafa via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

Scientific Name: Terrapene carolina triunguis

The Three-toed box turtle is a very unique species of a box turtle. Unlike other subspecies, it only has three toes on its back feet rather than four.

They have a distinct shell that appears to be cut into squares with yellow markings. Males have reddish markings on their heads, necks, and forelegs.

The three-toed box turtle is relatively small compared to other turtle species, typically reaching a maximum length of only 6 inches. They’re omnivores that eat plants, fruits, and live insects.

5. Ornate box turtle

Ornate box turtle crawling
Ornate box turtle crawling | image by NPGallery via Wikimedia Commons

Scientific Name: Terrapene ornata ornata

The ornate box turtle is a type of reptile native to the southwestern and central United States. It’s one of the subspecies of ornate box turtles with red eyes, which are more common in males than females.

Males have brighter colors than females, which helps them attract mates. Their shells are dark in color, typically black or dark brown, with yellow rings and stripes that indicate the turtle’s age.

They can grow to be about 6 inches long and weigh nearly a kilogram. This species prefers to live in low-moisture woodlands and grasslands. Though very uncommon, they can still be seen in areas with water sources such as ponds and wetlands.

6. Snapping turtles

Snapping turtle with mouth open
Snapping turtle with mouth open | image by OakleyOriginals via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Chelydra serpentina

Snapping turtles are large freshwater turtles found in the United States and Canada. Their range extends from Alberta to Nova Scotia, as well as from Mexico to Texas.

The snapping turtle gets its name from the way it bites its prey with its powerful beak-like jaws. Their shells are smooth, and they dive to the lake’s bottom to hunt for food. Another distinguishing characteristic of these turtles is their long, broad tail, which is covered in bony plates.

This species has a long neck and a large head, with eyes that differ depending on gender. Adult males have red eyes, whereas females typically have yellow eyes.

7. Desert box turtle

Desert box turtle
Desert box turtle | image by christoph_moning via iNaturalist | CC BY 4.0

Scientific Name: Terrapene ornata luteola

The desert box turtle is one of the turtles with red eyes that can be found outside of the water. This turtle can grow to be 5 inches long and is native to North America. They’re typically found in the grasslands and shrublands of the Rocky Mountains, Northern Mexico, and South Texas.

These animals have brownish shells with darker black and brown markings. They don’t require much water as terrestrial beings and are known to burrow themselves in the ground until the temperature rises again. These species are active from June to October.

The desert box turtle eats both insects and plants, but they prefer insects and other invertebrates like grasshoppers, beetles, and caterpillars.

8. Mexican box turtle

Mexican box turtle
Mexican box turtle | image by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters via Wikimedia Commons

Scientific Name: Terrapene mexicana

The Mexican box turtle is an omnivorous reptile that grows to be one of the largest box turtles, reaching lengths of up to 8 inches. They’re mostly found in Eastern Mexico, specifically in Tamaulipas, Veracruz, and San Luis Potosi. Their diet consists of earthworms, snails, slugs, insects, beetles, and any other animal that is smaller than them.

The shell of this turtle is brown with yellow markings. These animals have red and yellow markings on their skin as well. They also have red eyes, just like other box turtles do.