Cuora trifasciata

Common Name: Chinese Three-striped Box Turtle or Golden Turtle

Described by: Bell, 1825

Conservation Status: Critically Endangered: IUCN Red List 2006
Conditionally at Risk in Laos
Vietnam Red List: Vulnerable

Range of Cuora trifasciata.
(John B. Iverson)

Habitat: Aquatic and terrestrial. Streams or stream banks in the hill and montane evergreen forest.
Mell (1922) collected Cuora trifasciata in clear streams at elevations of 50 to 400 m in southern Kwangtung, but it probably occurs in other aquatic situations. Captives frequently bask and are often quite terrestrial, so this species probably spends much time on land.

Range: China (southern, Hainan and Hong Kong) Laos (suspected in Annamite Mountains of central region), Vietnam (in mountains and hills of the northern and central regions)

Key Threats: The plastron of Cuora trifasciata is perceived to have medicinal value, and is thought to contain medicinal properties that can cure cancer.

More about Cuora trifasciata:

Cuora trifasciata is a priority species: Intense exploitation to meet the demand of traditional medicine markets in China have brought this species to the edge of extinction in Vietnam.

Clutch Size: One clutch is laid of 5-6 eggs (Haito, 2001)
Egg description: Nesting occurs in May, and two brittle, white, elongated (48-50 x 26-27mm) to tapered eggs are laid at one time.
Incubation: 80-85 days (Haito, 2001)
Age of maturity: Females become productive at 0.75-1 kg weight according to the owner of a commercial farm on Hainan (Haito, 2001).
Diet: Omnivorous. Frogs, crabs, worms, fruits, vegetation and carrion. Captives do well on a fish diet


Distinguishing Features: Three black longitudinal lines on carapace

Coloring: Top of head pale brown or yellow, with black lines on the side of the face, and a yellow or orange patch behind the eye. Red yellow, or orange skin at the base of the front legs.

Male/Female: Male has indented plastron and a larger and thicker tail.

Plastron: Dark with yellow border and front, and underside of the marginals yellow or orange with occasional black spots. Hinged plastron allows the turtle to close up its shell like a box.

Carapace: up to 20cm.




Two Cuora trifasciata.

This field guide was last updated in August 2006.
Contact us: