Amboina Box Turtle Fact File

Cuora amboinensis

Credit: Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons








Wild 25-30 years

Captive 38 years



Fruit, Plants, Insects

Conservation Status



The Amboina box turtle is a species of semi-aquatic reptile which is found across parts of south-east Asia.

They are omnivores which seek out fruit, plants and insects to feed on. Juveniles tend to feed on more animal prey while adults focus on plant matter.

Females deposit their eggs in to moist soil and then leave the eggs. They provide no care for their young.

These animals are listed as endangered by IUCN. They are increasingly threatened by the wildlife trade including capture for use in traditional medicines. Habitat loss and alteration is also affecting them.

Read on to learn more about these remarkable reptiles.


What does the Amboina box turtle look like?

On the back of the Amboina box turtle is a hard shell which helps to protect against attacks from predators. Their shell is dark brown with little patterning on top and yellow with black spots on the underside. The shell can reach up to 20cm (8in) long.

The skin of the face is colored olive or dark olive with three yellow stripes extending back across both side of the head.

Males and females are similar in color and pattern. Males have a slight concave shape to their plastron helping to differentiate them.


What does the Amboina box turtle eat?

Amboina box turtles are omnivores. They feed on a variety of plant and animal matter including plants, fruit, mushrooms and invertebrates.

These animals do not need to eat each day.

Their diet tends to change gradually as they age. Juveniles primarily seek out meat while juveniles are mostly herbivorous.

Amboina Box Turtle

Credit: Alina Zienowicz (Ala_z), CC BY 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


Where can you find the Amboina box turtle?

Asia is the native home of the Amboina box turtle. Here they can be found in the following countries - Bangladesh; Brunei Darussalam; India; Indonesia; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Malaysia; Myanmar; Philippines; Singapore; Thailand and Viet Nam.

A single record from Timor-Leste may have come from an introduced specimen.

This species has been the subject of releases across their range as a result of a belief that this can bring good luck.


What kind of environment does the Amboina box turtle live in?

As a turtle they live near water including natural bodies such as water and man-made water courses such as reservoirs, rice paddies and irrigation channels. These are most often located in forested habitats.

They are considered the most aquatic member of the box turtle family.

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How does the Amboina box turtle produce its young?

Mating will take place in the water. Males climb on the female and snap at her head. This causes the front of her shell to close and the back then opens.

Females can produce up to two clutches of between one and five eggs each year. These are brittle with a white, spherical shell. Their eggs are laid in a moist area of soil on the shore.

Eggs hatch after an incubation period of 76 days.

Females provide no care to their young after they deposit the eggs in the nest.

Sexual maturity is reached by six years old.


What does the Amboina box turtle do with its day?

These animals are semi-aquatic and can move with ease across both the land and in water.

They live in tropical environments where it is warm year round. This means they do not need to hibernate.

Amboina Box Turtle

Credit: Eveha, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Predators and Threats

What is impacting the survival of the Amboina box turtle?

These reptiles can defend themselves by pulling the head inside their shell. The base of the shell is hinged so they can completely hide the body.

Populations of the Amboina box turtle are decreasing across their range.

This species is a target for the illegal wildlife trade and is used for food and in the production of traditional medicines. They are considered one of, if not the most traded species of turtle in Asia.

They are present in the pet trade both locally and globally.

Habitat loss is another threat to their survival including run off from developments. They do have a tolerance for some development such as the creation of rice paddies.

Quick facts

Their name is taken from the location where the type locality was found, 'Ambon' Island in Indonesia.

They may also be known as the South-East Asian box turtle, water turtle or the South Asian box turtle.

This species was first described for western science in 1801.

Four subspecies of the Amboina box turtle are recognized by most authorities.

Amboina Box Turtle

Credit: Len Worthington, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


Cota, M., Hoang, H., Horne, B.D., Kusrini, M.D., McCormack, T., Platt, K., Schoppe, S. & Shepherd, C. 2020. Cuora amboinensisThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T5958A3078812. Downloaded on 13 November 2021.

Zoo Brno. 2021. Amboina Box Turtle. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 14 November 2021]. 2021. Malayan Box Turtle. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 14 November 2021]. 2021. Malayan Box Terrapin - Cuora amboinensis. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 14 November 2021].

Thai National Parks. 2021. Cuora amboinensis, Amboina box turtle. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 14 November 2021].

Slepetski, L. 2000. "Cuora amboinensis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed November 13, 2021 at

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