Fun Central American Wood Turtle Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Fun Central American Wood Turtle Facts For Kids

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The central American wood turtle (Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima) is a semi-terrestrial turtle species found mostly in Central America and Mexico. They live in northern Costa Rica, Sonora, El Salvador, Guatemala, southern Nicaragua, Oaxaca, Guerrero and Honduras. They belong to four other subspecies of painted turtles and are named Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima manni as well. The other names of painted turtles include ornate wood turtle, Honduran wood turtle, or painted wood turtle. These animals are a popular domestic turtle breed and often captive-bred in various places.

As semi-aquatic species, these animals like basking in the sun just as much as going for a swim. They are very intelligent and easy to tame. It is best to purchase an already captive-bred species rather than a wild one as they are difficult to domesticate. The food in the ornate turtle diet is crickets, fruits, and vegetables. These turtles may be a little difficult to maintain for novice turtle owners. A lot of things must be kept in mind while arranging for wood turtle care items. They would need an outdoor shed with a pond or a moist environment suitable for a marshy pond turtle. If kept indoors, they would need a tank or a tub of water. If you are interested in pet turtles, you have come to the right place. Scroll down to read more interesting facts about central American wood turtles! If you find these facts interesting, you can also check out the snapping turtle and the bog turtle.

Fun Central American Wood Turtle Facts For Kids

What do they prey on?

Crickets, fruits, plants, and vegetables

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

3-5 eggs

How much do they weigh?


How long are they?

8 in (2o cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Brown with yellow markings

Skin Type


What were their main threats?


What is their conservation status?

Not Listed

Where you'll find them?

Grasslands, Forests


Central America









Central American Wood turtle Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Central American wood turtle?

The central American wood turtle (Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima) is a species of semi-terrestrial turtle found in Central America, including Mexico and down south till Costa Rica. The other names of this turtle include ornate wood turtle or painted wood turtle.

What class of animal does a central American wood turtle belong to?

The ornate wood turtle belongs to the class of reptiles from the Rhinoclemmys genus of the Geoemydidae family. Their scientific name is Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima. Along with four other subspecies, they belong to the parent species of painted turtles.

How many Central American wood turtles are there in the world?

The exact population of the Central American wood turtle is unknown. However, this turtle species is a very popular pet and has been imported to various continents. This suggests that the population of the ornate wood turtle is relatively stable.

Where does a central American wood turtle live?

The central American wood turtle, Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima, is semi-aquatic and mainly found in Mexico or Central America. It lives in northern Costa Rica, Sonora, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Oaxaca, Guerrero and Honduras. As a popular pet choice, the captive-bred variety has been imported to foreign regions like China, Taiwan, or Japan and is not endemic to just Central America any more.

What is a central American wood turtle's habitat?

The primary habitat of the ornate wood turtles is rainforests that have shallow river bodies and bushes. They can be found in marshy meadows, red maple swamps, woodlands, and farmlands. The captive-bred species are mostly found at the breeders and away from wild areas. For domestic ornate wood turtles, a mildly spacious area with a marshy pond is a plus. They would require a home with at least a water-filled tank as a semi-aquatic species. The ornate wood turtle also requires a tank water heater, a heat lamp for basking, and a humidifier to maintain 60-75% humidity.

Who does the central American wood turtle live with?

The central American wood turtles are both a pet as well as a wild species. They do not mind living a solitary life or with other compatible pets. In the wild, they are mostly solitary and are found in pairs during the breeding season.

How long does a Central American wood turtle live?

The average lifespan of central American wood turtles is varied and can be more than 20 or 30 years.

How do they reproduce?

The central American wood turtles are oviparous and will lay eggs after mating. They can mate all year round and have around four clutches. These turtles show special interest in mating during the late summer months. Reproductive efforts can take the whole day or finish in the early morning. Males will head bob the females to signal attraction. If they are too anxious, they may also nip the female lightly during mating. They can mate either on land and water.

During incubation, the ornate wood turtle females build nests, ideally 30-50 days after mating. The nest is usually made by digging five to seven in (12.7-17.7 cm) deep and occasionally urinating to prevent it from collapsing. Females may flee and dig at a different location if disturbed. One clutch of this turtle has about three to five eggs.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of a central American wood turtle is Not Listed.

Central American Wood Turtle Fun Facts

What does a Central American wood turtle look like?

The central American wood turtles are known for the vast range of colors and patterns they can be found in. They have yellow swirly patterns or black eyespots on their carapace, and some may even have a bit of pink or red hue. The males are generally smaller and have longer tails in comparison to females. The hatchlings are comparatively darker than the adult turtles.

Get to know the central American wood turtle and their food habits, breeding, or habitat preference.

How cute are they?

The central American wood turtles are one of the most popular domestic turtle breeds. While they may be shy, they can be very enthusiastic when it comes to feeding.

How do they communicate?

Turtles mainly communicate using high-frequency sounds.

How big is a Central American wood turtle?

The central American wood turtles are about eight in (2o cm) big in length. They can be nine times smaller than sea turtles.

How fast can a Central American wood turtle move?

There are no studies that have estimated the speed of a central American wood turtle. They are estimated to move slowly but maybe a little faster when running away if scared.

How much does a Central American wood turtle weigh?

There is no data on the weight of central American wood turtles. The wood turtles, in general, weigh about 35 oz (1 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specified names for the male and female turtles. The genders can be differentiated by size as males are smaller than females and have longer tails.

What would you call a baby Central American wood turtle?

Babies are usually referred to as hatchlings.

What do they eat?

The central American wood turtle diet is omnivorous with red worms, earthworms, crickets, as well as plants, vegetables, and fruits. They need to be given proper nutrition, and their salad could include vegetables or fruits like apple, mango, banana, kale, and zucchini. If you wish to enrich the diet of your turtle, you can try adding vitamin or calcium powder to their salads.

Are they dangerous?

The central American wood turtles are not dangerous at all. On the other hand, they make perfect pets for families of any size. They are very easy to train, intelligent, and remain at a manageable size. Since they are semi-terrestrial, they would need an enclosure that can offer a drier version of the environment ideal for marshy pond turtles. Having a medium to large size tank is a great idea, especially if your pet is indoors. These turtles would also require a pile of hay or leaves to provide them with hiding places so that they feel secure. You will also need a UVB light bulb over the basking area.

Would they make a good pet?

Yes, the Central American wood turtle would make amazing pets. Although they require a lot of care, they are smart and look very beautiful. These turtles can be a little shy and would require various hiding places. They absolutely love eating, and even if they run away from you in the first meeting, they will slowly start approaching when they realize you will offer them food. Remember to purchase only captive-bred turtles as wild turtles may not adjust to domestic life. Once these turtles are comfortable with you, they can become very docile and eat the food right off your hand. The price of a wood turtle can vary according to the breeder but generally falls in the range of $100-$175.

Did you know...

You can tell whether an ornate male turtle will be born or a female through temperature. Males are usually born when the temperature is cooler, while females are born when the temperature is on the warmer side.

Do wood turtles need a heat lamp?

Yes, the wood turtles would absolutely need a heat lamp in their habitat. These heat lamps can help create a hot environment for the turtles to enjoy basking. You can place the light lamp right on top of their living quarters or land area. Adjust it to a temperature cycle of 12 hours on and 12 hours off. They would also need the humidity adjusted to about 60% and a tray full of clean water.

How do you take care of a Central American wood turtle?

A lot of things need to be taken into consideration when preparing a wood turtle care plan and habitat. Keeping a wood turtle is easy if you have the dedication. You would need to create a comfortable environment for a turtle that usually lives in the wild. The living area of the wood turtle should ideally be outdoors. A small tub full of water is essential for this semi-aquatic species, especially if you're keeping them indoors. As we previously explained, they would require a UVB light lamp in their living quarters, as well as a humidifier. As they are a shy species, you should always keep stacks of leaves or hay so that they can hide whenever they are feeling anxious. Remember to keep a tray filled with fresh water. These turtles would also need very nutritious food that includes a perfect balance of salad and insects.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles from our Aldabra giant tortoise facts and Pacific pond turtle facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable wood turtle coloring pages.

Written By
Sonali Rawat

<p>Sonali has a Bachelor's degree in English literature from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University and is currently pursuing a Master's in English and Communication from Christ University. With considerable experience in writing about lifestyle topics, including travel and health, she has a passion for Japanese culture, especially fashion, and anime, and has written on the subject before. Sonali has event managed a creative-writing festival and coordinated a student magazine at her university. Her favorite authors are Toni Morrison and Anita Desai.</p>

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