Chinese Box Turtle (Cuora flavomarginata)

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Chinese Box Turtle
Cuora flavomarginata
Chinese Box Turtle (Cuora flavomarginata)
Name Chinese Box Turtle
Name Lat. Cuora flavomarginata
Family Asian River Turtles
Family lat. Geoemydidae
Order Turtles
Order lat. Testudines
Origin China
Habitat Swamps
Diet Fish, crayfish, insects, veggies
Humidity 60-80 %
Behavior ♂ semi-aggressive
Keeping Individual, group
Care Level Easy
Reproduction Oviparous
Housing Humid terrarium
Life Span 20 years
Protection CITES Appendix II; EU Annex B
Metric Units
Size 20 cm
Temperature 22-26 °C
Temperature Local 35 °C
Housing Size 100 x 50 x 50 cm
US Units
Size 8"
Temperature 72-79 °F
Temperature Local 95 °F
Housing Size 40" x 20" x 20"

Distribution and habitat

Yellow-banded hingeback turtles are native to southern China, Taiwan, and the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. They live largely terrestrially near slow-moving and stagnant bodies of water, such as marshes and rice fields with dense vegetation that provides sheltered basking sites.


Minimum dimensions for the terrarium, according to the size and number of animals:

floor space for 1-2 animals 4PL x 2PL (L x W)

For each additional animal, increase the footprint by 10%, and for the 5th animal or more, increase the footprint by 20%. The carapace length (PL) is measured at the largest animal. A terrarium of e.g. 100 x 50 x 50 cm is recommended, which should be placed in a quiet place.

The land part, about two thirds of the base area, with a soft substrate of sand-earth mixture, covered with bark mulch and foliage, should be equipped with robust plants and roots (hiding places) and offer sunny spots. In addition, a shallow water section with roots, marsh and floating plants (also artificial) and a substrate of fine gravel and stones, some of which reach the water surface. To maintain water quality, a powerful filter with low flow and frequent water changes are recommended, and to maintain humidity, a rain or mist system.

Temp. day: 22-26 °C Temp. night: 18-22 °C Temp. local: 35 °C Humidity: 60-80

The lighting duration should be 8-14 hrs. They need daily UV irradiation and sunny places with radiant heat.


They are omnivores and require a balanced mixture of animal and vegetable food. The food supply consists of commercial water turtle food, supplemented with small crustaceans, snails, earthworms, shrimp, fish pieces, etc., which are also well accepted frozen. In addition, they need vegetable food, such as lettuce, dandelion, water plants, etc., and occasionally sweet berries and fruit (e.g. banana, pear, apple). It is important to regularly add minerals and vitamins, also cuttlebone should be constantly available

At least 1-2 fasting days per week are recommended. A regular and varied diet promotes health and prevents deficiency symptoms.

Reproduction and breeding

Males have a concave ventral carapace and a much thicker tail than females, and the anal opening is closer to the tip of the tail in males

Breeding usually takes place after winter dormancy. The eggs (1-3 pieces) are laid in moist soil and covered. At about 29 °C the incubation period is about 80-90 days.

Species protection

The animal population must be reported in writing to the competent authority immediately after the start of keeping. Subsequently, all arrivals and departures must be reported.

Protection of species: WA Annex II; EU Annex B. The proof of purchase is the required proof of origin for the animal. Please keep it safe! Your pet store will be happy to provide you with further information.


Two subspecies are known in their wide range. Since the males are very eager to mate, keeping the sexes separately is recommended. Males should be kept singly, females in groups. In case of incompatibility, the animals should be separated immediately. Outdoor keeping is possible from May to October. For a 10-12 week hibernation period, lower the temperature to 14-18 °C and reduce the lighting time by 2-3 hours. A transverse joint on the abdominal carapace allows the animals to fold up the front and rear parts in case of danger.

The terrarium must have good ventilation without drafts and meet the species specific needs. Measuring devices such as thermometers, hygrometers, etc. are necessary. The lighting has to correspond to the species-specific day-night rhythm and has to be placed in such a way that the animals cannot injure themselves. The terrarium should be locked in such a way that neither unauthorized persons can open it nor the animals can escape. Contamination must be removed regularly

Further literature can be found in your pet store.


Text: petdata; Image: Franz Lowak

Source: BMELV (1997): Tierschutzgutachten - Mindestanforderungen an die Haltung von Reptilien; ENGELMANN (2006): Zootierhaltung - Tiere in menschlicher Obhut: Reptilien und Amphibien, Harri Deutsch Verlag; ROGNER (2009): Taschenatlas Schildkröten, Verlag Ulmer

  • Gemäß § 21 Abs. 5 Tierschutzgesetz idgF