Asian box turtle
|Asian box turtle|
|Amboina box turtle, Cuora amboinensis|
Asian box turtles are turtles of the genus Cuora in the family Geoemydidae. About 12 species are recognized. The keeled box turtle (Pyxidea mouhotii syn. Cuora mouhotii) is often included in this genus, or separated in the monotypic genus Pyxidea. Genus Cuora is distributed from China to Indonesia and the Philippines, throughout mainland Southeast Asia, and into northern India and Bhutan.
Cuora species are characterized by a low- (e.g. Cuora pani) to high- (e.g. Cuora picturata) domed shell, which usually has three keels on the carapace. They are reddish, yellowish, brown, grey, and/or black in color. Some species have bright yellow, black, orange, or white stripes down the length of their keels. Their body color is highly variable, but usually very intense. Most species show stripes of variable color down either side of their heads, which usually meet at the nose.
The Asian Box Turtle is the most heavily trafficked turtle in the world. It is captured and sold as food to China, and to the United States as pets, where in South East Asia it is turning into an especially big problem. Which Nancy Karraker, a University of Rhode Island associate professor, has said “Trafficking in turtles is a major issue in Southeast Asia, and it’s important that we understand the key ecological roles that species like this box turtle play before it’s too late,”
Different conservation organizations are taking action to prevent or slow down the extinction of these species. However, in the past most of the efforts are failed due to lack of biological research regarding their history or genetic diversity of these species.
Asian box turtles are terrestrial, semiaquatic, or mainly aquatic, most spending much of their time on the edge of shallow swamps, streams, or pond that are dense with vegetation. Most are omnivorous, but carnivores do occur.
Taxonomy and systematics
Listed alphabetically by binomial name:
- Amboina box turtle, C. amboinensis (four subspecies)
- Amboina box turtle, C. a. amboinensis
- Javanese box turtle, C. a. couro
- Malayan box turtle, C. a. kamaroma
- Lineated amboina box turtle, C. a. lineata
- Yellow-headed or golden-headed box turtle, Cuora aurocapitata or C. (pani) aurocapitata[Note 1]
- Bourret's box turtle, C. bourreti
- Vietnamese three-striped box turtle, Cuora cyclornata (two subspecies)
- Chinese box turtle, yellow-margined box turtle, or snake-eating turtle, C. flavomarginata (three subspecies)
- Indochinese box turtle or Indochinese flowerback box turtle, C. galbinifrons
- McCord's box turtle, C. mccordi
- Keeled box turtle, C. mouhotii (two subspecies)
- Pan's box turtle, C. pani = "C. chriskarannarum"
- Southern Vietnamese box turtle, C. picturata
- Golden coin turtle or Chinese three-striped box turtle, C. trifasciata
- Yunnan box turtle, C. yunnanensis - rediscovered in 2004, verified in 2007.
- Zhou's box turtle, C. zhoui = "C. pallidicephala"
Cuora serrata, originally described as C. galbinifrons serrata by Iverson & Mccord and later considered a distinct species are hybrids of the keeled box turtle and taxa of the Indochinese box turtle complex as shown by the genetic studies of Parham et al. and Stuart & Parham (2004). A single specimen of C. serrata has been found in the wild, lending credence to the possibility that other specimens arose through natural hybridization or even from wild populations. No Chinese turtle farm is known to produce C. serrata-like specimens. The occurrence of wild hybrids is often regarded as "evolution in progress", a terminology and point of view that is not always accepted. It has yet to be confirmed, whether all C. serrata from the wild have originated by direct hybridization of C. mouhotii and C. galbinifrons, or also by "hybridisation" of C. serrata × C. serrata.
Unnamed hybrids of several other Cuora taxa are also known,[Note 2] as are intergeneric hybrids such as Mauremys iversoni, a hybrid between Cuora trifasciata and Mauremys mutica which are intentionally produced in Chinese turtle farms.
Wild-caught C. amboinensis specimens were frequently available in the exotic animal trade, but are getting rarer now; other species are rare to commercially extinct.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cuora.|
- Spinks, P. Q., et al. (2012). Species boundaries and phylogenetic relationships in the critically endangered Asian box turtle genus Cuora. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 63(3), 656-67.
- "URI researcher: World's most heavily trafficked turtle plays vital role in Indonesia environment, economy". The University of Rhode Island.
- "Conservation phylogenetics of the Asian box turtles (Geoemydidae, Cuora): mitochondrial introgression, numts, and inferences from multiple nuclear loci". doi:10.1007/s10592-006-9210-1#sec1. Retrieved 2019-04-11.
- Cuora. The Reptile Database
- H. Artner (2004). "Haltung und Nachzucht von Pans Scharnierschildkröte Cuora pani pani Song, 1984 und der Goldkopf-Scharnierschildkröte Cuora pani aurocapitata Luo & Zong, 1988". Emys. 11 (1): 4–21.
- T. Blanck & M. Tang (2005). "Ein neuer Fundort von Cuora pani Song, 1984 mit Diskussion über den taxonomischen Status von Cuora pani und Cuora aurocapitata". Sacalia. 7 (3): 16–37.
- J. B. Iverson & W. P. McCord (1992). "A new subspecies of Cuora galbinifrons (Testudines: Batagurinae) from Hainan Island, China". Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. 105: 433–439.
- F. J. Obst & U. Fritz (1997). "Zum taxonomischen Status von Cuora galbinifrons serrata Iverson & McCord, 1992 und Pyxidea mouhotii (Gray, 1862)". Zoologische Abhandlungen. Museum für Tierkunde Dresden. 49 (2): 261–279.
- James Ford Parham; W. Brian Simison; Kenneth H. Kozak; Chris R. Feldman; Haitao Shi (2001). "New Chinese turtles: endangered or invalid? A reassessment of two species using mitochondrial DNA, allozyme electrophoresis and known-locality specimens". Animal Conservation. 4 (4): 357–367. doi:10.1017/S1367943001001421. "Erratum". Animal Conservation. 5 (1): 86. doi:10.1017/S1367943002001117.
- H. Shi; J. F. Parham; W. B. Simison; J. Wang; S. Gong; B. Fu (2005). "A report on the hybridization between two species of threatened Asian box turtles (Testudines: Cuora) in the wild on Hainan Island (China) with comments on the origin of C. serrata-like turtles". Amphibia-Reptilia. 26 (3): 377–381. doi:10.1163/156853805774408487.
- Zhou et al. (2008)
- Peter C. H. Pritchard & William P. McCord (1991). "A new emydid turtle from China". Herpetologica. 47 (2): 138–147. JSTOR 3892730.
- Buskirk, J. R., et al. (2005). On the hybridisation between two distantly related Asian turtles (Testudines: Sacalia × Mauremys). Salamandra 41, 21-26.