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Painted wood turtle
- Rhinoclemys pulcherrima manni

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The Painted wood turtle it is a very striking turtle thanks to its colors and therefore it is easy to find it as a pet.
Painted wood turtle
Turtle, Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima incisa, berlin zoo, Germany – Tornado stop, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Origin / Distribution

The Painted wood turtle (Rhinoclemys pulcherrima manni) It is a kind of tortoise of the family Geoemydidae

The genus of turtles (Rhinoclemmys) includes species that occur in mainly tropical and subtropical regions of Central and South America. The habitats of the different species are very different, which is also reflected in his breeding. The Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima presented in this report lives in both aquatic and terrestrial environments

The different subspecies are found:

  • Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima incisa is located in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Mexico in the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca;
  • Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima manni It is found in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.;
  • Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima it is found in Mexico in the states of Guerrero and Oaxaca;
  • Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima rogerbarbouri it is found in Mexico in the states of Colima, Jalisco, Nayarit, Sinaloa and Sonora.

  • In Europe, there are relatively many possessors of the Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima incisa and Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima manniin, so with a little luck you can quickly find offspring of these subspecies.

    Characteristics / Appearance

    Painted wood turtle
    Turtle, “Rhinoclemmys manni”, berlin zoo, Germany – Tornado stop, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

    The shell is highly arched and slightly faired in the center., males are somewhat flatter overall.

    The basic color of the shell is brown to yellowish., on the ribbed scutes there are yellow and red ocelli of different sizes. The posterior margin of the carapace is serrated like a saw.. The basic color of the plastron is light yellow to cream., around the center seam there is a narrow black mark. There is also an anal notch on the plastron. The skin is colored in various shades of brown and olive, on which the stripes of the brands stand out, predominantly red, but partly also yellow.

    When they are not covered by a layer of earth, the Painted wood turtle draws attention and is one of the most beautiful. The males of this species reach a size of just over 15 cm and can weigh up to 600 g. The females., on the other hand, They can grow to more than 20 cm and weigh 1,2 kg. But, most are still smaller. The Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima incisa it is the largest subspecies.

    Sex differences

    Males are still smaller, the carapace is flatter and the tail is comparatively longer than in females. It also, the anal notch usually shows a more acute angle in males compared to females.


    The Painted wood turtle (Rhinoclemmys manni) lives in the tropical dry forest of the lowlands of Nicaragua and Costa Rica. The annual rainfall is about 1500 mm.

    Their way of life is semi-aquatic.. Prefers to live in areas rich in vegetation near running water. If you move a little away from the bodies of water, this species retreats to moist vegetation.

    Temperatures in the habitat exceed 20 °C throughout the year, and there is also a high humidity throughout the year. In the months of December to April, humidity is around 60-70% (a few 3-10 mm of precipitation per month), otherwise the humidity in the habitat is around 80-100% with a rainfall of about 160-300 mm al mes. The climate is characterized by a clear alternation of rainy and dry seasons..

    Habitat vegetation is very dense. Due to weather conditions, tropical dry forests are characterized by tree species that shed their leaves in the dry season to reduce moisture loss (for example, the white gum tree). It also, various bromeliads grow here, Cactus, etc. in the rainy season, the vegetation resembles that of tropical forests with lush growth.

    But, during the season, dry, that lasts several months, the ground becomes very hard. Smaller bodies of water dry up completely, leaving only a few shallow puddles. Much of the vegetation withers, the trees shed their leaves.



    The Painted wood turtle eats fruit, insects and worms. Your diet should consist of a 60% of green leafy vegetables, a 30% of protein and a 20% of fruits and vegetables. In addition to a varied diet, they need extra calcium to ensure healthy shell growth. Unlike other aquatic turtles, this turtle does not need water to swallow its food.


    The Painted wood turtle is oviparous. The females lay from 3 to 5 eggs at a time. Eggs at low temperatures may be dormant in the early stages, and can sleep for some time in low temperatures, when the temperature returns to normal you can proceed to incubation.

    Threats to the species

    The species has not been cataloged in the red list of the UICN. Populations in the wild have decreased in recent years, mainly due to the felling of trees.. It's not in the treaty either. CITES

    Main threats

  • Illegal collection and trafficking.
  • Deforestation and loss of habitat for agricultural use.

  • The "Painted wood turtle" in captivity


    Terrarium video "Painted wood turtle"

    [embedyt] www.YouTube.com/watch?v=9BauTOuLuyY&width=400&height=300[/embedyt]

    The Painted wood turtle can reach a maximum carapace length of up to 20 cm.. These animals live semi-aquatic.. That is why they need an aquaterrarium with an integrated terrestrial part. As turtles love to swim and dive, the portion of water must be very generous. For the benefit of the Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima manni, there should be another container of water on the land side. The surface of the terrarium should not be less than 120 x 50 cm.. The bucket of water must be at least 50 x 50 cm and have a water depth of 15-20 cm..

    This species prefers temperatures between 26 and 30 degrees centigrade with humidity between 70 and the 100 %. The temperature can be reduced to 25 Celsius at night. Animals need a hot spot to sunbathe at about 35° Celsius and must be irradiated with a UVB/UVA lamp during the day..


    The Painted wood turtle is omnivorous. They accept meat and vegetable foods. But, plant food is preferred. dandelions, fruits and lettuces are at the top of the menu. They also like to eat earthworms, mealworms and zoophobas. You can also give fish (smelts), mice and mussel meat. The worms should always be dusted with a preparation of vitamins and minerals for insects. Of course, turtles will also take commercially available turtle pellets.

    breeding of the Painted wood turtle in the aquaterrarium

    It is possible to breed Costa Rican turtles (Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima manni) in an aquaterrarium. Some breeding reports can be found.

    Buy one "Painted wood turtle"

    Unfortunately, many aquatic turtles are still being extracted from nature and put on the market. These animals are usually very weak and difficult to get used to having them in the terrarium. They are also often full of parasites and worms. So, it is strongly recommended to buy young animals from the breeder. Although the pups can be a little more expensive, they are much more agile and you save yourself the hassle of acclimatization and deworming. Now there are enough breeders of some subspecies such as Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima manni so that the gene pool in Europe is large enough to avoid inbreeding.

    The price of the "Painted wood turtle" in the exotic animal market ranges from 65 – 120 EUR.

    Videos "Painted wood turtle"


    rhinoclemmys pulcherrima manni looking for earthworms 2

    Alternative names:

    1. Painted wood turtle (English).
    2. Tortue forestière peinte (French).
    3. Pracht-Erdschildkröte (German).
    4. Tartaruga de madeira ornamentada (Portuguese).
    5. "Tortuga Dragon", Tortuga de Monte Pintada Centroamericana, Tortuga de bosque, Tortuga pintada de bosque (español).

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