Thai National Parks

Reptiles of Thailand

Species of Thailand

Amboina box turtle

Thai: เต่าหับ, dtao haab

Binomial name: Cuora amboinensis, Riche (in François Marie Daudin), 1801

The Amboina box turtle (Cuora amboinensis), or southeast Asian box turtle is a species of Asian box turtle.

It is found in the Nicobar Islands, eastern India (Assam), Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, central and southern Vietnam, west Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines (Leyte, Luzon, Mindanao, Samar, Negros, Panay, etc.), Indonesia (Sulawesi, Ambon Island, Sumatra, Borneo, East Malaysia, Brunei, Nias, Enggano, Simeulue, Java, Sumbawa, Halmahera, Ceram, Seram, Buru, East Timor, Bali, Palawan and Maluku), and possibly China(Guangxi and Guangdong) and Sri Lanka.

The type locality is "Amboine" (or "Amboina") Island, today Ambon Island in Indonesia.

Description

These turtles have blackish-brown to olive brown colored shells that are not as ornate as many other box turtles. All have a blackish olive head with three yellow stripes on the side. The male can be identified by the slightly concave shape to its plastron. There is no specific pattern to what the underbellies may look like, for either sex. The only true way of telling age is to guess by the texture of the shell, as growth rings form irregularly.

There are four subspecies which are primarily differentiated by differences in the color and shape of the carapace:

  • Cuora amboinensis amboinensis (Wallacean Box Turtle) – eastern Indonesian islands: Ambon Island, Sulawesi, the Moluccas, Buru, Seram and East Timor and smaller islands in the region.

Have a quite flat shell with a flared marginal scutes. The plastron have a bigger black spots coloration, and possesses a bigger head. Well adapted for an aquatic lifestyle. For individuals suspected to be of this subspecies: Ratio of carapace length / height: 3.08. Average ratio dimensions of plastron spots: 1.21 (almost circular)

  • Cuora amboinensis couro (West Indonesian Box Turtle) (Schweigger, 1812) – south Indonesian islands: Sumatra, Java, Bali and Sumbawa.

Moderate domed carapace, some individual possesses a flared marginal scutes. The plastron shows black markings on every plastral scutes, Darker in Coloration, more oval black spots on plastron.

  • Cuora amboinensis kamaroma (South East Asian Box Turtle) (Rummler & Fritz, 1991) – Malayan box turtle. Mainland Indochina (South and Central Vietnam, southern Laos & Cambodia), Thailand (Phang Nga Province etc.), Singapore and mainland Malaysia and Borneo.

High domed carapace and smaller, more elongated and less spotting of black pigments in the plastron. have smaller and shorter tail compared to other subspecies. do not have any flare in the marginal scutes. Average ratio of carapace length / height: 2.82. Average ratio dimensions of plastron spots: 2.14 (small and elongated)

  • Cuora amboinensis lineata (Burmese Box Turtle) (McCord & Philippen, 1998) – Myanmar.

Resembles to Cuora amboinensis kamaroma, but in the carapace there is a bright colored mid-dorsal line, and sometimes a bright colored lateral line. The plastral are possesses large black spotting of black similar to the Cuora amboinensis couro.

Several distinct populations are believed to represent up to 4 more subspecies, or at least striking varieties.

  • Nicobar Islands
  • Eastern India (Assam), Bangladesh and possibly Sri Lanka
  • Borneo, the Malaysian Islands, Brunei and Palawan
  • Philippines (Leyte, Luzon, Mindanao, Samar, Negros, Panay etc.)

C. a. kamaroma has hybridized in captivity with the Vietnamese pond turtle – a species nearly extinct in the wild – and with males of the Chinese pond turtle (Chinemys reevesii). Other hybrids are known, like C. amboinensis × Cuora trifasciata.

Ecology and status

They are omnivorous, with younger turtles tending towards more meat consumption and older turtles eating a more herbivorous diet.

Although Cuora amboinensis is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN, they are able to thrive in some areas of the world. For example, they can be found in the storm drains of Brunei. These are seriously polluted, and yet seem to be extremely popular habitat for these turtles and other animals that can withstand eutrophication. In some places, this species is hunted for use in folk medicine.

Cuora amboinensis can be quite difficult to breed in captivity, compared with other box turtles. These turtles have a mating ritual very similar to that of other box turtles. No courtship occurs, the male simply climbs upon the female. He then snaps at her head, so that she closes the front half of her shell, opening the back.

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Scientific classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Reptilia
Order
Testudines
Family
Geoemydidae
Genus
Cuora
Species
Cuora amboinensis

Common names

  • German: Asiatische dosenschildkröte
  • English:
    • South Asian box turtle
    • Southeast Asian box turtle
    • Amboina box turtle
  • Thai: เต่าหับ, dtao haab

Subspecies

  • Cuora amboinensis amboinensis, François Marie Daudin, 1802

  • Cuora amboinensis couro, August Friedrich Schweigger, 1812

  • Cuora amboinensis kamaroma, H. J. Rummler & Uwe Fritz, 1991

  • Cuora amboinensis lineata, William Patrick McCord & Hans-Dieter Philippen, 1998

Synonyms

  • Cuora amboinensis amboinensis, Rafe Marion Brown (2013)
  • Cuora amboinensis lineata, Nguyen Van Sang et al. (2009)
  • Cuora amboinensis amboinensis, Nguyen Van Sang et al. (2009)
  • Cuora amboinensis kamaroma, Nguyen Van Sang et al. (2009)
  • Cuora amboinensis couro, Nguyen Van Sang et al. (2009)
  • Cuora amboinensis couro, Bonggi R. Ibarrondo et al. (2006)
  • Cuora amboinensis kanzaroma, Harald Artner (2003)
  • Cuora amboinensis kamaroma, Tanya Chan-Ard et al. (1999)
  • Cuora amboinensis kamaroma, Merel J. Cox (1998)
  • Cuora amboinensis lineata, William Patrick McCord & Hans-Dieter Philippen (1998)
  • Cuora amboinensis, Ulrich Manthey & Wolfgang Grossmann (1997)
  • Cuora amboinensis cuoro, Indraneil Das (1995)
  • Cuora amboinensis kamaroma, H. J. Rummler & Uwe Fritz (1991)
  • Cuora amboinensis amboinensis, H. J. Rummler & Uwe Fritz (1991)
  • Cuora amboinensis couro, H. J. Rummler & Uwe Fritz (1991)
  • Cuora amboiensis, Wirot Nutaphand (1979)
  • Cuora ambionensis, Goldsmith, Proctor, Cole & Dadd (1969)
  • Emys cuoro, Robert Mertens & Heinz Wermuth (1955)
  • Cyclemys amboinensis, Robert Mertens (1930)
  • Cyclemys amboinensis, George Albert Boulenger (1889)
  • Cistudo amboinensis, George Albert Boulenger (1889)
  • Cuora amboinensis, John Edward Gray (1856)
  • Cistudo amboinensis, André Marie Constant Duméril & Gabriel Bibron (1854)
  • Cistudo amboinensis, André Marie Constant Duméril & Gabriel Bibron (1835)
  • Clemmys (Clemmys) melanocephala, Leopold Fitzinger (1835)
  • Emys couro, John Edward Gray in Edward Griffith (1831)
  • Cistuda amboinensis, John Edward Gray (1830)
  • Terrapene couro, Leopold Fitzinger (1826)
  • Terrapene bicolor, Thomas Bell (1825)
  • Kinosternon amboinense, Thomas Bell (1825)
  • Terrapene amboinensis, Blasius Merrem (1820)
  • Cuora amboinensis couro, August Friedrich Schweigger (1812)
  • Emys cuoro, August Friedrich Schweigger (1812)
  • Emys amboinensis, August Friedrich Schweigger (1812)
  • Emys melanocephala, August Friedrich Schweigger (1812)
  • Emys couro, August Friedrich Schweigger (1812)
  • Testudo amboinensis, François Marie Daudin (1802)
  • Testudo melanocephala, François Marie Daudin (1802)
  • Testudo amboinensis, Riche in Daudin (1801)
  • Testudo melanocephala, François Marie Daudin (1801)
  • Testudo fasciata, Georg Adolf Suckow (1798)

Conservation status

Vulnerable (IUCN2.3)

Vulnerable (IUCN2.3)

Distribution map of Amboina box turtle, Cuora amboinensis in Thailand

Range map of Cuora amboinensis in Thailand

Important note; our range maps are based on limited data we have collected. The data is not necessarily accurate or complete.

Special thanks to Ton Smits, Parinya Pawangkhanant, Ian Dugdale and many others for their contribution for range data.

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