Found in ponds and streams throughout southern China and Taiwan, the Chinese box turtle (Cuora flavomarginata), grows to be about 5 to 12 inches long and can live up to 40 years, according to Petco. Despite sharing common traits with the North American box turtle (Terrapene carolina), such as a hinged shell that it can retreat to and close, the Chinese box turtle requires completely different care to properly flourish.
Things You'll Need
- 20- to 40-gallon shallow, lidded aquarium
- Pellet, moss or mulch substrate that retains moisture
- Aquarium plants and logs
- Full-spectrum (UVB) fluorescent lighting
- Aquarium thermometer
- Mist sprayer or humidifier
- A variety of food, including crickets, wax worms, butter worms, meal worms, earthworms, timothy hay, kale, collard or mustard greens, grated yellow squash, carrots and zucchini, berries, peaches, cantaloupes and bananas
- Calcium and vitamin/mineral supplements specific to turtles
- Filtered chlorine-free water
- Shallow food and water dishes
- 3 percent bleach solution
- Scrubbing brush
House your turtle in a 20- to 40-gallon shallow, lidded aquarium lined with a pellet, moss or mulch substrate that retains moisture. A quarter to a half of the tank needs to contain enough water so that the semi-aquatic Chinese box turtle can submerge itself halfway. Provide a shaded hiding place as well as an open basking area and full-spectrum (UVB) fluorescent lighting for 12 to 14 hours a day. The temperature in the habitat needs to be kept between 70 and 76 degrees Fahrenheit at night and from 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. Use a mist sprayer or humidifier to keep the habitat at 70 to 90 percent humidity.
Feed your Chinese box turtle a diet high in fiber and calcium, but low in protein and fat. Young turtles will eat crickets, wax worms, butter worms, meal worms and earthworms every other day; while older turtles are mostly vegetarian and need to eat daily. Provide them with cut up timothy hay, kale, collard or mustard greens, grated yellow squash, carrots and zucchini, berries, peaches, cantaloupes and bananas in a food dish. Add a calcium and vitamin/mineral supplement to the food one to three times a week. And provide clean, filtered chlorine-free water in a shadow drinking bowl.
Wash your hands before and after handling your Chinese box turtle or anything in its habitat. Remove leftover food and change the water daily. Remove feces every other day. Remove the turtle and thoroughly clean the aquarium once a week. Throw away all the used substrate and scrub the aquarium with a 3 percent bleach solution. Rinse and dry thoroughly before putting clean substrate in and returning the turtle to the tank.
Watch for signs of illness in your Chinese box turtle and seek medical treatment immediately if they appear. Look for swollen limbs, lethargy, labored breathing, runny nose, lesions on the shell, parasites on the skin, eye or mouth discharge, abnormal feces, soft, discolored rough spots on the shell, abnormal spots on the limbs or sneezing.