The gentle but shy Malayan Box Turtle
The Malayan (sometimes called Malaysian) box turtle has a
high arched olive or dark brown top shell that is usually smooth
(without a keel) in adults. The underside will be yellow or
dark brown with a darker spot on each scute (shell section).
The face and neck are yellow, the head color is dark olive
or black with a yellow stripe from the neck, above the eye
to the tip of the snout, and two more stripes on the side of
Like most box turtles, the Malayan Box Turtle has a hinged
plastron that allows it to close up its shell with its head
and legs inside, for protection from predators. This is a
fairly large box turtle, growing to 8 to 10 inches long.
They are believed to live 30 to 40 years.
Malayan Box Turtles are found in the wild in and around
lowland streams and marshes, swamps, rice paddies, and
creeks, though the adults are often found far from water in
the surrounding forests. Their habitat ranges from China to
A gentle but shy turtle, they are primarily herbivores, but
may take some animal foods in captivity. Mixed greens, small
quantities of fruits, edible mushrooms, earthworms and
crickets should be fed once or twice a week.
If you plan to choose an Malayan Box Turtle as a pet, you
should be an experienced turtle keeper, and provide a large
aquarium with half land and half water (at least 6 inches
deep). One way to do this is to use pea gravel and build a
sloping ramp from the deep water side to the land side,
enabling the turtle to climb up to dry land easily. Edible
or safe plants may be added, and the water temperature
should be maintained at 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit and the
land at around 78 degrees F. The tank must also be kept
clean at all times.
Your Malaysian Box Turtle will also require good lighting,
with UVA and UVB for proper skeletal and shell development,
just as for any turtle. Turtles require sunlight or a good
equivalent to process calcium and vitamin D. Without this
their growth will be damaged and they may sicken and die.
Of course, be sure to buy a captive bred Malayan Box Turtle
only. Buying Wild-caught turtles not only contributes to the
current crisis of the rapid decimation of turtles in most
parts of the world, but nearly all wild-caught turtles are
ill and parasite-ridden and many die before long in
captivity despite the best efforts of their owners and