How to Care for
Your New Spiny Turtles
Misc Frogs II
Misc Frogs III
Misc Frogs IV
Misc Frogs V
Pet World Visit
Evan White wrote this care sheet because LA knows diddly about them. All the pictures and comments are by Evan White. LA
These temperate turtles hail from Indonesia. From the Peninsular
Malaysia to Thailand, Sumatra, Borneo, and large surrounding Indonesian
islands. They are typically encountered in high altitude rain forests
near shallow, slow moving streams. The climates are cooler, and quite
humid. They are very secretive in the wild, often residing buried under
the topmost layers of the forest floor.
However, these items, which are high in animal fats and proteins, should not be fed to them more than occasionally. Occasionally being two to three times a month. The majority of their diet should be comprised of fruits and vegetables. I have had excellent luck with the following fruits: bananas (this must be considered a delicacy to them, they will eat more of it than one might think is possible), cantaloupe, honey dew, strawberries, tomatoes (another “delicacy”), red grapes, red apple, and water melon (I only recently discovered that they would eat this. I gave them a piece of rind with a little of the actual fruit still attached thinking they would completely ignore it, not so…). Fruits seem to be preferred to vegetables when offered in concert with one another, though vegetables should still be offered.
vegetables often offered are: romaine, red leaf, green leaf, and butter
leaf lettuce (the crunchy hearts of these leafy vegetables seem to
illicit feeding more than the chopped leaves themselves), kale (this is
not a favorite and is rarely consumed), and bok choy. These turtles seem
to be fairly opportunistic and will at least attempt to consume most
anything once, though they quickly learn what they do and do not like.
There are a plethora of vegetables and fruits that can be offered, the
list here is basic, experimentation is the key. Very little is known
about the feeding habits of these uncommon chelonians. As with all
captive reptiles, a good calcium and vitamin supplement is recommended.
A large shallow bowl should be provided for bathing and drinking. This
should be changed when soiled. I have found large, deep, plant saucers
to work excellently for this purpose. These turtles will often spend
large amounts of time just “relaxing” in their water bowls. Usually
after a hearty meal of (you guessed it) banana.
The enclosure should be heavily planted with either artificial plants or nontoxic real ones. These animals will often seek shelter beneath them. I do not provide hide boxes for my turtles, a deep substrate topped with dry leaves, moss, artificial plants, and wood (both slabs of cork, and a type of mold resistant Malaysian wood) are used instead. Given these environmental features, a hide box seemed unnecessary as the turtles would often burrow beneath them (the leaves etc.).
mentioned, a deep substrate should be provided. I use coconut husk
(Bed-a-Beast, Eco Earth etc.), mixed with play sand, and orchid bark to
a depth of approximately 3 inches with excellent luck. The ratio for
mixing the substrate should be something like this: 6 parts coconut husk
to 2 parts sand to 3 parts bark (it doesn’t need to be exact at all). I
also use patches of green moss to help hold humidity, topped off with
dry leaves of a tulip tree (again, I think that’s what they were from
but any large, dry leaves will work). The leaves act as a sort of
insulator for the substrate, keeping the moisture beneath.
Temperatures and Humidity: This is the area of husbandry where the most mistakes are made in keeping these turtles. They require low ambient temperatures, with a high overall humidity. Daytime temperatures of 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit should not be exceeded (though I have found them to be far more tolerant of warmer temperatures than much of the existing literature has suggested). Nighttime temperatures of 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit are acceptable, though lower is not a problem. The humidity should be a constant 60-70 percent. The substrate will aid this, though daily misting should be employed to supplement this. I have noticed that these turtles become active when sprayed, they will often come out with their heads fully extended when sprayed. They seem to enjoy drinking this way, much like a chameleon would. When sprayed (gently) on the face they will almost assuredly open their mouths and attempt to drink. To aid further in hydration, an ultrasonic fogging device can be placed in the water dish. This creates a very impressive display, and raises humidity considerably. (Don’t let it run dry, expensive mistake.)
Lighting: Though these turtles shun bright lights and remain mostly concealed beneath the substrate, ultraviolet lighting is recommended. This can be provided by any one of a number of UVB producing florescent lights that are readily available. As far as heating goes, a 40 watt red heat bulb can be suspended over one end of the enclosure to create a gradient. I use a heating pad placed beneath the heat bulb to create a general worm spot of approximately 83 degrees Fahrenheit (give or take). Though the heating pad has caused a thermal burn on the hind foot of one of the turtles, (who apparently was unfazed by the scorching of his foot and didn’t move.) The heating pad was removed, and the burn healed promptly. The other individual in the same enclosure has never encountered a problem like this.
Sexing and Breeding:
Though a general rule of thumb for turtles concerning sexing ids that males have a longer thicker tail, as well as (usually) a concave plastron, this appears to not apply to these turtles as strictly. I believe that it is difficult to truly sex them until they are more mature, with a shell length of at least 5”. It seems that males are also slightly less colorful, though I wouldn’t say that is 100% accurate in all cases.
For these turtles, the male’s cloaca is located further down his tail than the females and is only barely noticeably thicker. The plastron is also only just concave on the male shown. It seems that females have a sort of colorful “tip” to their tails, while the males do not.
breeding, though it is rare, and usually by accident without any real
idea as to why it happens (concerning environmental conditions), it is
possible and has been done though only a handful of times. It seems that
breeding may be triggered by changes in humidity and temperature though
no one person or group has isolated the exact factors that determine it.
Usually a clutch of 1-2 eggs is laid as many as three times a year.
Usually between the months of November and February. Incubation, in
captivity, has usually lasted about 100 days. It seems that their eggs
undergo diapause, and thus must be incubated for the first half of
incubation at temperatures of about 82F to about 86F and for the
remainder at about 78F-80F. This is an adaptation to allow the eggs to
hatch during appropriate seasonal conditions, (usually those best for
the survival of the baby turtle). Babies are extremely serrated.
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