Keeled box turtle
Cuora mouhotii

The keeled box turtle (Cuora mouhotii syn. Pyxidea mouhotii ) is a species of turtle in the family Geoemydidae. The species is endemic to Asia.

Animal name origin

Other common names for C. mouhotii include keel-backed terrapin, jagged-shelled turtle, and Mouhot's turtle.

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The specific name, mouhotii, is in honor of Alexandre Henri Mouhot, a French naturalist and explorer.

The subspecific name, obsti, is in honor of Fritz Jürgen Obst (1939–2018), a German herpetologist.

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The keeled box turtle's upper shell (carapace) has three large, raised ridges and is serrated on the back end. The lower shell (plastron) is different variations of brown in color, ranging from light brown to dark brown. The upper jaw is strong, while the snout is short and curved. The feet are only partially webbed, which suggest a terrestrial lifestyle as opposed to an aquatic one.

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Male and female keeled box turtles can be distinguished by the color of their eyes as well as their nails. A male generally has longer and thicker nails than a female, and eyes that are either black or brown. A female generally has shorter, thinner nails, and eyes that are orange or red.

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C. mouhotii occurs in Burma, China, India, Laos, and Vietnam, and also in Bhutan and Thailand.

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The keeled box turtle is a terrestrial species, and can be frequently found in small caves and rock crevices. It can also be found in forests, in deep layers of leaves.

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Habits and Lifestyle

The biology of C. mouhotii is not well known.

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In one survey, males and females had an average straight carapace length around 15 to 17 cm (5.9 to 6.7 in).

The breeding season is in May through September. The average clutch size was four eggs, which are smooth, white, and about 4.4 cm (1.7 in) long. On average they typically lay two clutches in a breeding season. Like many other turtles the keeled box turtle does not care for its young. Females have been noted to dig nests with their rear legs and cover the clutches with soil, and also to lay eggs under fallen leaves.

The male keeled box turtle is very aggressive during the act of mating. In some instances the male turtle will chase and injure a female. The male will often persist until the female allows its advances.

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Diet and Nutrition

The keeled box turtle is herbivorous, and eats a wide variety of vegetation in the natural environment, with a preference for wild fallen fruits. It will also occasionally eat worms, snails, and other meat.


Population number

C. mouhotii is listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

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The population of the keeled box turtle has been on a steep decline in some areas, particularly Vietnam. This can be attributed to people capturing it for food and pets, as well as Vietnam legally exporting large numbers. Although there are other possible reasons behind this population decline, deforestation and hunting have proven to be a major threat to this turtle especially.

Threats include habitat destruction and degradation during deforestation. In parts of its range it is threatened by overexploitation as it is collected from the wild, especially for food. It is also used in traditional medicine. It is consumed locally and traded internationally for the food market and the pet trade.

In China the species is bred in captivity on a small scale for the pet trade.

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1. Keeled box turtle Wikipedia article -
2. Keeled box turtle on The IUCN Red List site -

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