Yunnan Box Turtle: Facts, Habitat, and Diet of this Endangered Species

The Yunnan box turtle is a critically endangered species that is facing similar threats to other turtle species, such as the leatherback sea turtle.

Introduction to the Yunnan Box Turtle

The Yunnan box turtle is a species of turtle native to the Yunnan province in China. It is a medium-sized turtle, with a carapace (shell) that can reach up to 10 inches in length. This species is one of the most endangered turtles in the world, and is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Overview of the Species

The Yunnan box turtle is a carnivorous species, and its diet includes insects, worms, and small mammals. It is a semi-aquatic species, and is found in both terrestrial and aquatic habitats. It is also a solitary species, and will often retreat to its shell when threatened. The Yunnan box turtle is a long-lived species, and can live up to 50 years in captivity.

The Yunnan box turtle is a popular pet due to its attractive shell and its relatively easy care requirements. However, due to its endangered status, it is illegal to own or trade this species in many countries. Conservation efforts are ongoing to protect this species and its habitat.

Key Facts Numbers
Scientific Name Cuora yunnanensis
Average Length 7-10 inches
Average Weight 1.5-2.5 lbs
Average Lifespan 30-50 years
Habitat Forests and wetlands of Yunnan, China
Conservation Status Critically Endangered

The Yunnan box turtle is a critically endangered species that shares some similarities with the chicken turtle.

Physical Characteristics

Where is the Yunnan Box Turtle Found?

The Yunnan Box Turtle is native to Southwest China and is found in the Yunnan Province, in the southeastern part of the country. This species is also found in Vietnam, Laos, and Southeast Asia.

Description of the Turtle’s Body

The Yunnan Box Turtle is a medium-sized turtle and can reach up to 10 inches in length. It has a long neck and a long tail. Its carapace is oval-shaped and flattened, with a beak-like projection at the front. The shell is light brown in color and has yellow-brown stripes. Its plastron is yellowish-brown with black spots.

Color Patterns

The Yunnan Box Turtle has a color pattern that consists of yellow, brown and black stripes that run along its carapace. The stripes are usually arranged in a pattern of a checkerboard and the black spots on its plastron are also arranged in a checkerboard pattern.

Special Adaptation Features

The Yunnan Box Turtle is well adapted to its environment and is capable of surviving in a wide range of temperatures. It is also able to hibernate during cold weather months. This species is also very good at hiding from predators, as it has a dark coloration that helps it to blend in with its surroundings. Additionally, the Yunnan Box Turtle has a sharp beak which allows it to defend itself from predators.

The Yunnan box turtle is a critically endangered species that shares some similarities with the Malayan softshell turtle.

My Private Notes About Yunnan Box Turtle

I recently got my first Yunnan Box Turtle, and I’m absolutely in love! It’s a beautiful reptile and an absolute pleasure to care for. Here are my top tips for anyone who’s looking to get one of their own:

  • Choose a Reputable Breeder: Make sure to get your turtle from a reputable breeder. There are a lot of unscrupulous breeders out there, so do your research and make sure you get a healthy and happy turtle!
  • Provide A Proper Environment: Your turtle needs a proper tank to live in. Make sure it’s big enough, that it has plenty of places to hide and rest, and that humidity and temperature are consistent.
  • The Right Food: A variety of food, especially a good mix of vegetables and insects, will keep your Yunnan Box Turtle healthy and happy. Make sure to research the specific food types and amounts for your turtle, as this can vary greatly.
  • Careful Handling: Your turtle is fragile, so make sure to handle it with care. Always support the turtle with both hands and keep it away from your face.

Most of All, Love It! Caring for your Yunnan Box Turtle will be a wonderful experience, and you’ll form a bond with your turtle over time. Enjoy your time with your new companion and love it!


The Yunnan box turtle is a semi-aquatic species and is quite active in the wild. It prefers to stay close to shallow bodies of water, such as ponds, streams, and small lakes. Its behavior in captivity is similar, as it will often search for water sources when feeling stressed or threatened.

Feeding Habits

The Yunnan box turtle is an omnivore and will readily accept a variety of foods. In the wild, it feeds on plants, insects, worms, small fish, and carrion. In captivity, it should be fed a varied diet of greens, vegetables, and insects, with occasional treats of earthworms, small fish, and shrimp. It is important to provide a balanced diet to avoid health problems.

Social Behavior

The Yunnan box turtle is a solitary species and does not usually interact with other turtles. In the wild, it is more likely to be seen alone or in small groups. In captivity, it should be housed separately from other turtles to avoid aggression and possible injury.

Preferred Habitats

The Yunnan box turtle prefers habitats which have both land and water sources. It needs access to a shallow body of water to swim and bathe, as well as a dry area to rest and bask in the sun. In captivity, a large aquarium with both aquatic and terrestrial areas should be provided. The aquarium should also have plenty of hiding places and plenty of substrate for burrowing.


The Yunnan box turtle is a seasonal breeder and typically breeds from April to July. During this period, the turtles are most active and can be seen basking in the sun with other turtles. Males will become aggressive and may use their shells to demonstrate dominance over other males.

Nesting Behavior

The female Yunnan box turtle will lay her eggs in shallow nests dug in the ground. She will lay a clutch of 1 to 3 eggs and cover them with soil and vegetation. It is important to note that the female may lay a clutch of eggs in different locations.

Egg Incubation

The eggs will require a temperature of around 27°C to 30°C and a relative humidity of around 70% to 80% to successfully incubate. The incubation period can range from 90 to 120 days, depending on the temperature. After the eggs are incubated, the young turtles will hatch and seek out food and shelter.


Threats to the Species

The Yunnan box turtle is threatened primarily by habitat loss due to agricultural and urban development, as well as over-collection from the wild for the pet trade. These turtles are popular in Chinese medicine, and are also collected for food and for sale as pets.

Conservation Efforts

The Chinese government has taken important steps to protect the Yunnan box turtle. The species is listed as a Class I protected species in China, and all trade in specimens is prohibited. In addition, the species has been included in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Appendix II, which regulates international trade in specimens.

International Laws Protecting the Species

In addition to China’s domestic laws, international laws have been enacted to protect the species. The Yunnan box turtle is listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and is also included in CITES Appendix II. This means that any international trade in specimens must be authorized by CITES.


The Yunnan box turtle is a large species of turtle found in the Yunnan province of China. It has a distinctive shell pattern and is known to inhabit a variety of habitats, from marshy grasslands to rocky mountain streams. Despite its beauty, the species is classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List, due to habitat loss and illegal collection for the pet trade. Conservation efforts must be made to ensure the survival of this species.

People Also Ask

What do Yunnan box turtles eat?

Yunnan box turtles are omnivorous, meaning they feed on both plants and animals. Their diet consists of insects, molluscs, and vegetation such as leaves, fruits, and grass.

What is the breeding season for the Yunnan box turtle?

The breeding season for the Yunnan box turtle typically begins in April and lasts until early July.

What are the threats to the Yunnan box turtle?

The Yunnan box turtle is threatened by habitat loss, collection for the pet trade, and overexploitation of the species for food.

Are there any conservation efforts in place to protect the Yunnan box turtle?

Yes, there are several conservation efforts in place to protect the Yunnan box turtle. These include international laws, captive breeding programs, and habitat protection.

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