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Yellow-margined Box Turtle

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Species group:

Other common names: Chinese Box Turtle; Chinese Golden Coin Box Turtle

Scientific name: Cuora flavomarginata

The basics:
Yellow-margined Box Turtles are naturally found in southern China, Taiwan, and some of the surrounding islands. They live in ponds and marshes that are surrounded with thick vegetation. They’ve adapted to living in rainforests and temperate regions where temperatures can dip into the 20’s ° F and there is a lot of year round rainfall.

Appearance / health:
This is a pretty turtle with distinctive contrasting colors. Their shell is dark with reddish brown spots in the center of each scute. Their shell is highly domed, has 3 keels, and each scute is filled with growth rings. They have a yellow stripe running down the middle of the carapace. The top of their head is brown to olive while their face, cheeks, chin, and neck are yellow. An identifying feature is the thick yellow stripe that is outlined in black and runs from the back of the eye to the neck. Their name comes from the underside of the marginal scutes being yellow. Their plastron is colored much like the carapace. Their legs are grey to olive.

AVERAGE ADULT WEIGHT: up to 2 pounds

AVERAGE ADULT SIZE: 5 – 6 ½ inches

Behavior / temperament:
Described as both delicate and hardy the Yellow-margined Box Turtle seems to have a mysterious persona. They are reclusive; quick to hide when they feel threatened but do become great friends to those that feed them.

Housing:
Yellow-margined Box Turtles can thrive outdoors in climates similar to their own. A minimum sized enclosure for two adult turtles is 50 square feet of floor space. Their outdoor enclosure should be designed with protection from escaping, predators, and giving them the option to have the benefit of the sun, wind, and rain, or to hide from the elements. They will enjoy the use of a small shallow pool. Provide burrowing space, natural plants, rocks, or boxes for hiding and sleeping. Natural grasses and other foods can be planted for them to forage on. They will need high humidity which can be maintained with regular watering. In some regions they may use a heated winter shelter. Regular cleaning can be done easily by raking the area and washing all water sources.

LIFESPAN: 30 – 40 years

TEMPERATURE/HUMIDITY: They can withstand temperate climate conditions but need high humidity.

HIBERNATION / ESTIVATION: When house outdoors they will retreat to their winter shelter or burrow into dirt for hibernation.

HEALTH CONCERNS: Those that are wild caught do suffer from the capture and transportation process. These wild turtles often suffer from dehydration, a high parasite load, and shell rot. They will need weeks to months of intensive care by their owner and reptile veterinarian to nurse back to health and help them thrive as a pet. Other common causes of health problems are poor water quality and overall improper habitat and diet. They can suffer from respiratory illnesses and shell peeling if their environment is too dry. Poor diet can cause shell deformities.

Diet:
Yellow-margined Box Turtles are omnivores making them relatively easy to feed a healthy pet diet. They can be fed a commercial turtle pellet supplemented with duckweed, mealworms, crickets, live feeder fish, fruit, dandelions, or mushrooms.

Breeding:
After some drooling, a song (kissing noises), and a dance (chin rubbing and running backwards) the male will progress to chasing, biting, and shaking the female of his choice. Once she has had enough and hides in her shell mating will take place. Two to three eggs are laid in each clutch and hatch 2 – 3 months later.

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