Coahuilan box turtle

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Coahuilan box turtle
Coahuilan box turtle (Terrapene coahuila) at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
CITES Appendix I (CITES)[2]
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Superfamily: Testudinoidea
Family: Emydidae
Genus: Terrapene
T. coahuila
Binomial name
Terrapene coahuila
Schmidt & Owens, 1944
  • Terrapene coahuila
    Schmidt & Owens, 1944
  • Terrapene ornata coahuila
    Mertens & Wermuth, 1955
  • Terrapene coahuilae
    Milstead, 1960 (ex errore)
  • Terrapene coahulia
    Milstead, 1969 (ex errore)
  • Terapene coahuila
    — Nietzke, 1973
  • Terrepene coahuila
    — Morafka, 1977
  • Terrepene coahuilae
    — Morafka, 1977
  • Terrapene cohauila
    Ferri, 2002 (ex errore)

The Coahuilan box turtle (Terrapene coahuila), also known commonly as the aquatic box turtle, is an endangered species of turtle in the family Emydidae. Unlike the other members of the genus Terrapene, this turtle spends roughly 90% of its time in water.[4]

It is a close relative to the common box turtle (T. carolina). Researchers have therefore suggested that it developed from a nonaquatic species in order to survive in the desert springs of Cuatro Ciénegas.[4]

Geographic range[edit]

T. coahuila is endemic to the vicinity of Cuatro Ciénegas in Coahuila, Mexico.[5] Within an area of less than 800 km2 (300 sq mi), there are several distinct pockets of this species. During the rainy season, Coahuilan box turtles may leave their home range and travel throughout the desert.[4]


The body of T. coahuila is adapted for spending long periods of time in the water, and the shell is often covered in algae. Just like any other box turtle, it has a hinged plastron that can be completely closed. The skin is dark, usually dark brown and dark gray, but some areas can appear completely black.[4]


T. coahuila is an opportunistic feeder that will devour both plants and other animals. It will for instance eat fly larvae, dragonfly nymphs, beetles, true bugs, spiders,[6] reptiles, fish, crayfish, mushrooms,[6] and plant matter (such as Chara[6] and Eleocharis spp.) in the wild.[7]


Mating in T. coahuila takes place in shallow water from September to June, and eggs are laid from May to September. The eggs are laid in small clutches, typically consisting of just 2 to 3 eggs per clutch.[4]


  1. ^ van Dijk, P.P.; Flores-Villela, O.; Howeth, J. (2016) [errata version of 2007 assessment]. "Terrapene coahuila". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2007: e.T21642A97428806. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2007.RLTS.T21642A9304337.en. Retrieved 2 July 2023.
  2. ^ "Appendices | CITES". Retrieved 2022-01-14.
  3. ^ Fritz, Uwe; Havaš, Peter (2007). "Checklist of Chelonians of the World". Vertebrate Zoology. 57 (2): 200. doi:10.3897/vz.57.e30895.
  4. ^ a b c d e Berg, William. "Aquatic or Coahuilan Box Turtle – Terrapene coahuila". Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  5. ^ Brown WS (1974). "Ecology of the aquatic box turtle Terrapene coahuila (Chelonia, Emydidae), with comments on its evolutionary status". Bulletin of the Florida State Museum. 19: 1–67.
  6. ^ a b c Harpine, McKenzie (2020). Burroughs, Lauren; DiBuono, Layne; Lee, Lindsey; Powers, Karen; Burrell, Galen (eds.). "Terrapene coahuila (Coahuilan box turtle)". Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved 2 July 2023.
  7. ^ Brown WS (1974). "Ecology of the aquatic box turtle Terrapene coahuila (Chelonia, Emydidae), with comments on its evolutionary status". Bulletin of the Florida State Museum. 19: 1–67.

Further reading[edit]

  • Schmidt KP, Owens DW (1944). "Amphibians and Reptiles of Northern Coahuila, Mexico". Zool. Ser. Field Mus. Nat. Hist. 29 (6): 97–115. (Terrapene coahuila, new species, pp. 101–103).
  • Howeth JG, McGaugh SE, Hendrickson DA (2008). "Contrasting demographic and genetic estimates of dispersal in the endangered Coahuilan box turtle: a contemporary approach to conservation". Molecular Ecology 17: 4209–4221.

External links[edit]