Mauremys reevesii / Chinese pondturtle - Care

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Specification Description
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Family: Geoemydidae
Subfamily: Geoemydinae
Scientific name: Mauremys reevesii
Dutch name: Chinese Driekielschildpad
English name: Chinese pond turtle
Average length: 12-18cm
Cites: B / II

The Chinese Reevs Turtle is, together with the golden treat turtle (Ocadia sinensis) by far one of the most kept species of Asian turtles. This is because both species are bred in large numbers on turtle farms, in China and Taiwan in particular. From here they are exported in large numbers to other Asian countries, the US. and also Europe where the turtles can be found in many pet stores and at the famous reptile expo’s for very low prices. Due to the small size and appearance of young animals, many people fall for this species and it is expected that, now that the sale of Trachemys species is prohibited in Europe the demand for these species will only increase. Of these two types, the Mauremys reevesii is the one with the greatest adaptability. This makes it a good option for beginners, but sometimes it also results in the animals still "surviving" in minimal circumstances, so read carefully before purchasing this (or any other) species to prevent misconceptions. The Ocadia sinensis also has great adaptability but requires slightly higher temperatures, does not undergo hibernation, grows bigger and has a predominantly herbavoric diet.


Appearance: Mauremys reevesii is a relatively small water turtle with a clear difference in size and appearance between both sexes. Males reach an average length of 12 cm. Females reach an average of 13/15 cm but can (partly depending on the area of ​​origin) measure 20 cm +. As a young animal the turtles have a brown / gray to very dark base color with those longitudinal stripes over the raised keels on their shell, sometimes a light border can be seen on the marginals along the edge of the shell. The tail is long but not as long as with some other Mauremys species. The head is wide, with a slightly separated neck and the legs are solidly built. On the head one sees an irregular pattern on the sides of the face. As the animals age, this pattern becomes less prominent, especially in males. This remains clearly visible in females. The plastron is light to dark in color with a dark coloring on the plates that melt together. Sometimes this plastron almost completely darkens with only the lighter base color visible on the marginal. As the animals mature, the three longitudinal stripes that are visible on the keels on the shell disappear and the keels become less prominent, but remain visible. The shell color often becomes a uniform brown. Male animals are often darker than the females and some male specimens become completely deep black in color.

Hybrids: both in their natural area of ​​origin and in captivity (both accidentally and intentionally), many hybrids are known between the Mauremys reevesii with other related species, something that is common in the Geoemydidae family, but the M. reevesii may be the winner. There are crosses known with the Mauremys nigricans, Mauremys japonica, Mauremys annamensis, Sacalia quadriocellata, Cuora amboinensis, Cuora flavomarginata. The Mauremys pritchardi described by Mccord in 1997 appears to be a natural hybrid of M. reevesii X Mauremys mutica and there are hybrids with one of the other much crossed species ... the Ocadia sinensis

Because the Ocadia sinensis and Mauremys reevesii are often farmed on the same farms, it may happen that an animal from one pond ends up in the other pond and mates with animals of the other species. Of course this also happens intentionally in the search for "something new". Certainly now that more mutations of these two species are found. The turning point is that a hybrid between Ocadia sinensis and Mauremys reevesii, certainly as a youngster, can look very similar to one of the two species. If one does not have extensive knowledge of the distinction between the species, then this can in time ensure that they will start breeding again with these hybrids. As a result, turtles resembling M. reevesii or O. Sinensis unintentionally are sold as "pure" while they are actually not. Now the natural value of both species is not high in the form of which they are very common and the chance of their being reintroduced is very low, but we want to prevent this. In the photos of this article you see a photo with a "pure" O. sinensis, M. reevesii and a hybrid between the two species. As can be seen, this animal shows characteristics of both species. 1) Mauremys reevesii young have a fairly straight shaped shell with three slightly raised keels along the length, over these keels a lighter colored continuous line runs. The Ocadia sinensis have a somewhat more rounded shell with only a raised keel over the ventral shields (back shields). A pattern of elongated spots can be seen over the rib shields, as seen in a pure animal. A deviating O. sinensis that thus shows a pattern of contiguous lines on the carapax is possibly a hybrid. 2) Mauremys reevesii, especially as a young animal, has a fairly sturdy round head and broad neck. On the head one only sees a fine pattern on the sides but never on top of the head itself. Ocadia sinensis has a more pointed narrow head (similar to Mauremys japonica, which was once placed under the same genus) with a more secreted neck and a pattern of thin straight lines across the entire face that extend into the neck. This pattern is also clearly seen from above on the sides of the top of the head. With a hybrid it is often seen that the head is just in between in terms of width and the pattern is too extensive for a (wild) Mauremys reevesii but too "irregular" for an Ocadia sinensis. Also, the line pattern is considerably "thicker" than the thin lines that the stripe turtle normally displays. 3) Ocadia sinensis has a light color on the underside (plastron and marginal) with a dark spot in the center of each shield. The spots on the underside of the marginal shields generally have a dark edge with a lighter core. Mauremys reevesii has a light to dark plastron with a much higher content of dark coloring that fuses or sometimes forms a whole. Hybrids often seem to show the pattern of Ocadia, but then considerably darker in color and the spots on the bottom of the marginal shields are solid, so they lack the lighter core. 4) some red coloration in the pattern that can sometimes be found in young O. sinensis is virtually absent from hybrids.

Mutations: Given that this is a fairly common species and the high numbers that are produced in the turtle farms, abnormal specimens are also found that are used for further breeding. Certainly now that the popularity of turtle mutations has risen sharply and with it the prices. The way of inheritance is not yet known for many variants. There are (Tplus) albinos, hypomelanistic animals, pastels (also called clowns) and animals with different patterns and / or shell color.


Behavior: Mauremys reevesii is by no means shy and day-active. Both in their natural habitat and in the aqua terrarium, they can often be found sunbathing on a sandbank or trunk protruding from the water. One can get quite close before the animals dive into the water. They are active hunters and mainly walk on the bottom in search of food. They are fairly tolerant of both peers and other species of turtles. Note that in the mating season males can be very territorial to each other.


Origin and habitat: the M. reevesii was very common in its range and was found throughout almost all of China. Unfortunately, all known locations with wild populations are virtually robbed for the Chinese food and medicine market. Now there are still some populations in China and North and South Korea. Populations occurring in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan may be expanded populations. The populations described in Timor (Indonesia), Timor Leste and Palau are certainly plotted populations.

One can (could) find these turtles in a wide range of biotopes. But preference is given to shallow pools, ponds, swamps and streams with a moderate current and lots of vegetation. Sometimes the species is also found around the drainages and wetlands of agricultural areas, but these are often caught directly by the local residents


Husbandry: because this turtle does not become very large, it is a good choice for enthusiasts with only limited space at their disposal. A single adult male could be housed in a Zoomed Turtletub, but preferably larger of course. An adult couple or trio (1.2) deserves a water section of 100x70x25cm (about 150 liters) and a land section where there is room to sunbathe and lay the eggs. Newborn Mauremys reevesii are pretty bad swimmers, but adult specimens can also be kept in deeper water, especially if there are enough climbing possibilities in the water itself to reach the surface of the water easily. This species is very tolerant of other turtle species, so if there is enough space and the fellow residents have the same calm character, this species can be combined with turtles from the same area and with the same requirements. However, avoid possible hybrids.

People will sometimes hear the average "layman" explain that turtles stink. This is almost always the result of poor water quality / maintenance in combination with their turtes diet. By means of a good filtration and the way one cleans this, this can easily be prevented. As with the housing of all water turtles, proper filtration of the water is necessary to keep this turtle in good health. Aquariums with newborn and growing specimens can be done by filtering through sponge filters connected to an air pump or the well-known internal aquarium filters. When the animals grow and are placed in a larger water area, filtration through an external “canister filter” that filters both mechanically and biologically is recommended. A strong current is not necessary for this species, but some movement of the water and especially the surface is recommended. Most oxygen intake of water takes place on the surface, with stagnant water there is only a limited part of the aquarium water that is in contact with the surface, by allowing the output of your filter to flow to the surface you create constant displacement, now the oxygen content of the water increases. This drastically reduces bacterial growth and thus, among other things, nasty odors considerably. Of course the general water quality also increases. Despite proper filtration, replace part of the water (20 to 50%) every week till 14 days.

Some decoration by means of pieces of wood decorate the water part and offer hiding and climbing possibilities. Especially if several turtles are kept together, this facility offers residents the opportunity to avoid each other. This species mainly walks over the bottom and is a calm swimmer, so you don't have to worry about enough swimming spots. By allowing a cork bark trunk to float in the water, you offer the turtles an extra place to hide and climb out of the water. You should preferably cover the bottom with a thin layer of fine aquarium sand, you can add coarse round stones, but do not use sharp and / or fine gravel / split variants. These can be eaten during feeding and cause internal problems. For example, blockages, damage and perforations of the intestines. Living (floating) plants are a good addition to the decor. Not only does your aquarium look more natural, it also offers more hiding and shaded areas and many plants reduce nitrates and other waste in the water. Please note that you will sometimes have to replace a part, as this species, especially when it gets older, has a partly herbavoric diet. Good options are water hyacinth, duckweed, waterweed and horn blade.

As reported, an appropriate dry and landarea is important, certainly if females that can lay eggs are kept. These must at all times have an easily accessible sand / earth part at their disposal to be able to lay any eggs. For males and young animals, a floating island or plateau that they can fully lay and dry on is sufficiënt. Bear in mind that there is enough space for all residents to sunbathe at the same time and possibly offer an additional basking spot if a turtle behaves territorially towards the other residents. An appropriate baskingspot is very important for this species, here the Mauremys can thermoregulate and dry. Preferably you also offer a degree of UVB on this basking spot, this can depend on the distance to the animal and the size of the accommodation with compact / energy-saving lamps or the efficient HID lamps from, for example, Solar Raptor. This promotes the growth, development and health of your turtle considerably! And is actually necessary if you want to take optimal care of your Mauremys. If there are enough warm sun spots of 29-31C, additional heating of the air temperature and water is often not necessary. It can measure 25 / 26C in the summer months. In spring and fall 24 / 25C. Night falls of 18 / 20C are well tolerated and in the winter one can offer a hibrnation or winters rest at 10 / 12C, please check the possible origin of your M. reevesii and adjust any circumstances accordingly. Use a light cycle of 8/10 to 12.5 / 13.5 hours per day depending on the season.


Diet: the Chinese Reevs Turtle has a very broad diet which is omnivorous in nature. However, the amount of plant matter intake increases as the turtles age. A good basic diet consists of the Zoomed natural turtle diet, Repashy Savory stew and worms. But preferably you offer a greater variety with other food items such as bloodworms, buffalo and morio worm, smelt, mussel, gammarus (fresh), shrimp, other insects, snails and Repashy Grub & Meatpie. Plant material that is fed on is endive, chicory, lamb's lettuce, romaine, radish leaves, bok choy and fruit such as apple and banana. Feed young animals almost every day to every day, growing and mature animals once every 2 to 3 days. Pay close attention to weight and prevent overfeeding, something that can happen quickly if you feed one-sided and too much. Good calcium intake is important for, among other things, the growth and shell / bone build-up of your turtle, but it is difficult to offer powdered insects and the like because a large part of the food in the water was washed off before ingestion. This is why good quality turtle pellets and Repashy foods are an important part of the diet.


Breeding: when an animal receives proper care, it can be sexually mature after 5 to 6 years. Females are often later as far as the males, which is the case with almost all (animal) species. In the wild, most pairings take place after the cold season from March to June. Eggs are laid from May to the beginning of August. In captivity, however, it can happen throughout the year as long as the circumstances make it possible. Females lay one to three times a year an average of 3 to 8 eggs. The second and possibly third layers are often smaller than the first. Feed your turtle well during this period and with a predominantly animal, calcium-rich diet. The hatching of the eggs is fairly simple, there is no need for a slide break or overnight cooling as with the incubation of some other turtle species. Place the eggs in an incubator on a substrate of vermiculite or Repashy Superhatch. The humidity must be 85/95%, but the eggs must not lie in a wet substrate. Set the incubator to 30 / 31C. At these temperatures, the incubation period lasts on average 61-68 days. Longer is possible at lower temperatures, so be patient.

As soon as the youngsters hatch it is wise to place them in a well-ventilated plastic container on a wet kitchen paper substrate. Here the young can rest from the effort it took to crawl out of the egg and absorb any remains of the egg yolk. Place this container in the incubator where you have hatched the eggs. After a few days, when the young's activity increases, you can place it in a simple setup where it can start feeding and growing.

Young Mauremys reevesii are often only 25 / 30mm in size and poor swimmers. They spend a large part of the time in very shallow (temporary) pools with lots of vegetation. Here they feed on all kinds of small aquatic animals. A 40x30 cm plastic container with a shallow layer of water, no higher than their shell length, is sufficient to startup a small group. Place enough possibilities to easily reach the surface and sunbathe. This can be done by reptile caves, cork bark, other tropical wood and flat stones. By adding waterplants and spagnum moss to the water you offer extra hiding places and resting places. In addition, these have a positive effect on water quality. Place an airstone connected to an air pump to increase the oxygen content and ensure some water displacement. Replace the vast majority of the water every week. One can start with food such as living or thawed blood worms and other mosquito larvae, artemia, gammarus and pieces of worm. The turtles are not difficult eaters and will quickly get used to eating the well-known turtle granules. Note, even though young Mauremys reevesii spend a larger part of their life in the water, a basking spot with UVB is greatly appreciated. This is necessary to raise the turtles in a healthy way.

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