Chinese three-striped box turtle

Chinese three-striped box turtle

The three-striped box turtle is a threatened turtle species that is endemic to China. It has a three-striped pattern on its carapace and is one of the most commonly kept turtles in captivity.

The Chinese three-striped box turtle is an endangered species and is found primarily in the provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangsu, and Fujian. They have a 3-striped pattern on their carapace which makes them very beautiful to look at.

Unlike other turtles, they aren't found in large numbers and are critically endangered. They were once common across southern China, but today they're only found in Hong Kong.

Physical Description

Chinese three-striped box turtle

These little guys have gone through a lot of changes over the years and now come in a variety of colors. They're also called three-striped box turtles, which is just one part of their name. When you look at a turtle, there are some things you might notice.

They may have a golden-yellow to olive-green head on top with a brown, yellow, or orange patch behind the eyes; they might have yellow jaws and the neck is pink or orange. Males have indented plastrons while females often have more rounded ones.

The turtle's plastron (bottom shell) is often a different color than the carapace. These are a little bit of an odd turtle, but they're not as peculiar as painted turtles, which are sometimes called "garden" or "mud" turtles because of the markings on their shells and head.


Its shell grows depending on the individual, generally ranging between 7-12 inches (20-32 centimeters).

Native Habitat

These unique creatures have a box shape but with three colors. Some can even live in water, while others stay on land. They once inhabited low- to mid-elevation forests of the Southern Chinese provinces of Fujian, Hong Kong, Guandong, Hainan Island, and Guangxi. Now they are seen in only a few places and all in Hong Kong.

They can be found in many areas, including stream banks and other high-elevation regions. They usually spend their time on land, which is believed to be one of the reasons they are typically found in zoos.

Chinese three-striped box turtle

Food/Eating Habits

These turtles are omnivorous and eat a variety of foods, including worms, frogs, crabs, fruits, vegetation, and carrion.

At the National Zoo, the animals typically eat a wide variety of plant-based foods. They also have access to proteins like crickets and earthworms. Some animals also enjoy vegetables and fruit from time to time as well.

Reproduction and Development

Commercial farmers on Hainan Island, in China, say that female chickens can produce eggs once they reach a weight of around 2 pounds (or about 0.75kg). Some male turtles can get pretty aggressive leading to more injuries for their mates. But female turtles lay a lot of eggs that may be vulnerable to predators. And the eggs incubate for up to 85 days.


If you decide to adopt a turtle as your pet, you may have to wait 30 years before releasing the animal into the wild.

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