Turtle Time: SSC’s Eastern Box Turtle Raspberry

Posted on July 3, 2024

By Mackenzie Ciolino, SSC’s Summer 2024 Marketing Intern

Raz glamour shot
Raspberry has been a key member of the SSC family for over 30 years!

Raspberry has been a key member of the Seacoast Science Center family almost since its inception. He was rescued from a construction site and taken in by the Center in its early days, over thirty years ago. Since his arrival, Raspberry has become a fan favorite in educational programs, a source of wonderful memories for visitors, and an unofficial mascot for the Center. 

Raspberry is an eastern box turtle, a species native to the eastern United States whose habitat stretches as far south as Florida and as far west as Texas. They tend to be found in moist areas in forests and meadows where they settle in the mud to stay cool and hibernate in the dirt from October to April. These turtles often eat snails, grubs, fruit, fungi, grass, caterpillars, duckweed, and more. Here at the Center, Raspberry enjoys apples, tangerines, mealworms, and his namesake and favorite food, raspberries! We also know “Raz” is male due to the unique coloring of his eyes and the orange spots behind them. 

visitor program with raz april 2024
Raspberry loves outside time during our visitor programs. A chance for SSC visitors to learn about Eastern box turtles.

Eastern box turtles’ lovable nature is accompanied by some impressive traits. They live for several decades; from 40 years up to a century or more. One particularly interesting feature of box turtles is their shells, which are made up of a top portion, the carapace, and a bottom one, called the plastron. These pieces are held together by a hinge that shuts (like a box) when they are scared and can allow them to hold their breath for up to two hours. Eastern box turtles are a pretty amazing species and Raspberry is no exception! 

Raz is also a sort of terrestrial ambassador, and an adorable one at that, connecting SSC visitors and program participants to the land-based habitats of Odiorne Point State Park, where the Center is located. Turtle Time is an educational program with one of our naturalists that runs at the Center or as an outreach program, giving people a chance to “learn more about the body parts that all turtles have in common, what they eat, why we think they are so special, and what you can do to help keep them safe.” This is also a favorite theme during our Big Fish Little Fish early-learner program. One Facebook commenter mentioned how “Making salads for Raspberry in Big Fish Little Fish class will always be a[n] SSC highlight for my girls!” Our Safari Campers also love when Raspberry makes a guest appearance at camp!

turtle time bflf 2024
Raspberry during our Big Fish Little Fish turtle time theme. Always a favorite with our early learners!

I spoke to Wendy Lull, president emerita of Seacoast Science Center, and she described Raspberry as “the rockstar of the outreach programs we did.” Raspberry has traveled to libraries and schools for years, touching the lives of children even outside of Odiorne and the Center. Wendy also mentioned how Raz is “a nice starter critter” for young kids. He is calm and friendly, choosing not to stay in his shell when other turtles would hide. Plus, as a slow-moving creature, “when he actually does something he’s exciting,” Wendy laughed. 

Raspberry has gained quite a following during his time with SSC. Visitors have even taken to social media to sing his praises, saying “Raspberry is a family favorite” and “He’s a celebrity in our house.” For one fan, “When my kids were little [he] was a main reason for a visit,” and another mentioned, “I love saying hi to Raspberry.” Whether our Raz is a local celebrity to you or just an old pal to say hello to, we can all agree he brings “lots of joy to all [our] visitors.”

raspberry outside time 2024
Visit Raspberry during one of our visitor programs or next time you visit the Center to say hello!

Raspberry has touched the lives of generations of SSC visitors, allowing people to share the memories they made as children with their children. He brings turtle knowledge and fun to each visitor program and outreach event he attends. He has left an indelible mark on SSC’s visitors, employees, and campers alike, and will continue to do so. If you find yourself in Odiorne Point State Park this summer, stop by and say hi to Raz and you might just become another one of his adoring fans, if you aren’t already!

Raspberry’s habitat, tank, and care are generously funded by long-time fan, Pam Hall.

Seacoast Science Center will be CLOSED today: Friday, April 5, 2024. Our utilities are currently down and need to get repaired before we are able to open for visitors. Thank you for your understanding. 

CLOSED today.

Seacoast Science Center is closed today due to inclement weather.