For our #TurtleOfTheWeek, meet the beautiful Bourret’s Box Turtle!
The Bourret’s Box Turtle (Cuora bourreti) is one of the colorful members of the Cuora genus. This turtle looks remarkably similar to the Indochinese Box Turtle (Cuora galbinifrons), and in fact, until 2004, it was regarded as one of its subspecies. Both featuring gorgeous shell patterns and shades of yellows, reds, and oranges on the heads, necks, and limbs, the simplest way to spot the difference between the two species is the color of the plastron. Indochinese Box Turtles typically feature a predominately black belly, while the Bourret’s Box Turtle has a cream-colored belly with black blotches.
This turtle’s pattern and coloration vary widely between individual turtles, featuring browns, yellows, and oranges, and it is mottled with black streaks, speckles, and blotches, allowing the species to blend in amongst fallen leaf litter on the forest floor.
This turtle was once considered common in their terrestrial forest habitats in Vietnam and Laos, but intensive hunting in the 1990s and early 2000s has led to a drastic reduction of over 90% in the wild population. Other threats such as habitat destruction, attributed to activities such as timber operations, forest conversion for agriculture, livestock pastureland, and mining, pose a widespread and persistent threat to Bourret’s Box Turtles. Despite being legally protected in Laos and Vietnam, the turtles continue to be illegally hunted for trade, even within protected areas. Today, finding specimens of Bourret’s Box Turtle has become exceptionally challenging for both scientists and local hunters.
We aim to preserve the existence of this species through captive conservation breeding at our Turtle Survival Center. Producing genetically diverse, healthing hatchlings ensures that this species will not go extinct and provides the foundation for which turtles may someday be returned to their wild habitat. Since the inception of the TSC, we have produced 60 hatchling Bourret’s Box Turtles.