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Direction & advice on

Vietnamese Keeled

Box Turtles

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The Keeled Box Turtle is also called the Vietnamese Keeled
Box Turtle, the Thorn Turtle, Jagged-shell Box Turtle,
Sawback Box Turtle, and the Keeled Backed Box Turtle. It's
scientific name is Pyxidea mouhotii.

This Asian Box Turtle is found in the wild in India,
southern and central China, Vietnam, and northern Thailand
on rocky slopes and forests.

The Vietnamese Keeled Box Turtle, as you might guess, has
three pronounced keels (raised ridges) down it's back. It
also has jagged or serrated edges to its shell in the back,
and sometimes also in the front. That and it's mahogany,
brown, yellow-tan or black coloration makes it look somewhat
like a leaf in the water.

The head is dark with some mottling or fine lines. They
reach a maximum of 7 inches in length, and the flattish
shell becomes more domed with age. Like many turtles, males
have longer and thicker tails. The females tend to have red
eyes, while the males' are usually brown or black.

Unlike most of the Asian Box Turtles, The Keeled Box Turtle
is not aquatic, but lives normally in the deep leaf litter
of mountainous forest floors. You will need to provide your
Jagged-shell Box Turtle with a large vivarium with a bottom
layer of sphagnum moss, bark, and leaf litter, a small
shallow pool, safe live plants, and a basking area with a
low wattage full-spectrum light. Humidity must be kept high,
not lower than 75%, and temperatures between 72 and 85
degrees Fahrenheit.

In the wild the Keeled Box Turtle is omnivorous, but eats
primarily vegetation, especially wild fruits. In captivity
they will also eat some worms and low-fat dog food. Be sure
to keep a cuttlebone in the habitat, or dress their food
with a reptile calcium supplement, to prevent the disfigured
growth and other ailments caused by a calcium or vitamin D3

You should of course either buy a captive bred Asian Box
turtle or be willing to pay large veterinarian bills to
nurse a rescued wild-caught turtle back to health. Also, be
aware that wild-caught turtles, and particularly Asian
turtles, have being removed from a rapidly shrinking wild
population and are usually greatly stressed by thoughtless
handling and transport methods, and likely to have dangerous
parasites as well.

That said, keepers of the Vietnamese Keeled Box Turtle say
that although it may not be as colorful as some other
turtles, its tameness and personality make it a fun turtle
to own.

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