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Urban Turtle fest – the New York Turtle and Tortoise Society’s Annual Show

NYTTS SHOWHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Early June brings to NYC one of my favorite herp events, the NY Turtle and Tortoise Society’s (NYTTS) annual show.  The word “show”, however, does not due justice to this wonderful event, as you’ll see below.

A NYC Chelonian Tradition

The show is held outdoors, in a schoolyard located in the West Village, one of NYC’s most interesting and vibrant neighborhoods. While members do have a chance to display their turtles and tortoises and compete for trophies, much more goes on as well.  The vital, hands-on conservation work of NYTTS, the Wetlands Institute and other local institutions is highlighted and visitors learn how to become involved.  Of special value to me is the opportunity I and other turtle keepers have to share what we have learned with one another in person – a refreshing break from emails and such! This year, as always, I made many new contacts and was especially delighted to meet up with old friends that I had not seen in some time.  Read More »

Egg Retention (Dystocia) in Turtles – the Problem and Some Solutions – Part 2

Blanding’s turtle laying eggsHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Please see Part 1 of this article for general information on retained-egg syndrome and the provision of suitable nest sites for captive turtles.

Creating an Acceptable Nest Site

Gravid turtles can be maddeningly choosy when it comes to nest site selection – even when presented with what appears to be perfectly “natural” situation, some females refuse to “appreciate” our efforts. 

Moisture usually attracts nesting females, and in some cases heavy misting, to simulate rain, is useful (in NYC, I’ve noticed that a great many Common Snapping Turtles nest on the first rainy night in June).   Read More »

The Conservation and Captive Care of the Diamondback Terrapin

Diamondback TerrapinHello, Frank Indiviglio here. Turtle enthusiasts find the Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) very difficult to resist. Sporting a beautiful carapace that is deeply etched with concentric rings, and clad in a bewildering array of gray, silver and black markings, this estuary specialist does, however, present a few challenges to prospective keepers.

A Unique Natural Habitat

The Diamondback Terrapin is the only North American turtle completely restricted to estuaries, tidal flats, lagoons and salt marshes. Neither a fresh water nor marine species, it is uniquely adapted to brackish habitats. Read More »

The Keeled Box Turtle – a Hardy Species in Need of Captive Breeding – Part 2

Keeled box turtleHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  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. Read More »

The Keeled Box Turtle – a Hardy Species in Need of Captive Breeding – Part 1

Keeled Box TurtleHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Asia’s Keeled Box Turtle, also known as the Jagged-shelled or Indian Thorn Turtle (Pyxidea mouhotii) is an attractive, interesting species that has somehow never become very popular with turtle keepers.  Wild populations have plummeted in recent years and, as zoos pay little attention to this turtle, I’d like to ask that hobbyists consider working with it.

Description

I was taken in by the Keeled Box Turtle’s subtle beauty and unique shell construction early on.  The extremely flat dorsal surface of the carapace is distinctive, as is the presence of the 3 well-defined keels or ridges that decorate it.  The carapace, which reaches 7 inches in length, is brown, tan or rust in color and is serrated at the posterior.  The limbs are gray to dark brown.  A hinge develops in the plastron (lower shell) of the adults, allowing the head and front limbs to be sealed tightly into the shell. 

Range and Habitat

The Keeled Box Turtle ranges widely throughout South and Southeast Asia, occurring from southern China (including Hainan Island) through Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar to eastern India.

It is, however, rarely encountered as it prefers rainforests and heavily wooded areas.  The Keeled Box Turtle may soak in shallow pools but rarely enters deep water.

Status in the Wild

As is true for many Asian turtles, the Keeled Box Turtle is declining throughout its range due to habitat loss and collection for the food trade.  It is designated as “Endangered” by the IUCN and listed on Appendix II of CITES.

I’ll cover captive care Part II of this article.  Please write in with your questions and comments. 

Thanks, until next time,

Frank Indiviglio

Further Reading

Please see the Turtles of the World website for more natural history information.

Keeled Box Turtle image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Torsten Blanck

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