In Part 1 of this article we looked at the natural history of the interesting but little-studied Keeled Box Turtle (also known as the Jagged-shelled or Indian Thorn Turtle, Pyxidea mouhotii). Like many other turtles native to South and Southeast Asia, it is severely threatened by habitat loss and collection for the food trade, and would benefit from increased attention to captive reproduction.
Keeping Keeled Box Turtles
Although little is known of their natural history, Keeled Box Turtles adjust well to captivity and soon lose their innate shyness. A pair I received as adults 20 years ago are still alive and well today at the Staten Island Zoo.
Keeled Box Turtles differ from most of their relatives in being largely nocturnal. They spend much of the day buried below leaves or soil, and rarely bask. Captives often abandon their nocturnal ways and forage by day. Night viewing bulbs are a useful means of providing nighttime heat and observation opportunities.
Little has been published on reproduction in the wild. In common with many turtles, male Keeled Box Turtles become quite aggressive during the breeding season. While a certain amount of neck-biting is typical during courtship for many species, male Keeled Box Turtles seem to carry this to extremes – in the close confines of captivity, they may seriously injure females if not monitored closely.
A typical clutch contains 1-5 eggs, which hatch after an incubation period of 97-108 days at a temperature of 82F. The carapace of the hatchlings, attractively marked in dark brown with a bright orange rim, is 1.4-1.6 inches long.
Keeled Box Turtles are reported to feed upon plants and fruits in the wild, but, judging from observations of captive animals, they likely consume carrion, insects, snails and other invertebrates as well.
Mine have thrived on a diet comprised of a wide variety of vegetables and fruits, crickets, earthworms, mealworms, pink mice and commercial turtle chow.
Please see this article to learn about the CUC Phoung Center’s efforts to rescue this and other Southeast Asian turtles.
Keeled Box Turtle image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Torsten Blanck