GRETNA – Gov.  Pete Ricketts proclaimed the ornate box turtle as Nebraska’s official state reptile during a ceremony hosted by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) at Schramm Education Center.  Monica Macoubrie, wildlife specialist with NGPC, led a live turtle exploration activity for students following the Governor’s proclamation. 

Ricketts:  “Nebraskans take pride in caring for the natural world, including our wildlife and their habitats Ornate box turtles are especially popular here in the Good Life.  Thank you to Nebraska Game and Parks for educating the next generation about our state’s rich biodiversity.  I’m excited to designate the ornate box turtle as Nebraska’s official state reptile!”

The ornate box turtle lives in grasslands throughout the majority of the state.  The turtle is one of 48 species of reptiles—including eight other turtle species, 10 lizard species, and 29 snake species—that inhabit Nebraska.

 Most of Nebraska’s turtle species live in water at least some of the time.  However, the ornate box turtle is a terrestrial (land) turtle.  It is most commonly found in short, mixed, or tallgrass prairies in the Sandhills and counties in southwestern Nebraska. 

 The ornate box turtle gets its name from a single hinge shell in which the turtle can almost completely enclose its body to escape predators.

To learn more about the ornate box turtle and other reptiles in Nebraska, visit