Animal Information

The Painted Wood Turtle (Rhinoclemmys punctularia)

Just as the name implies the Painted Wood Turtle aka Spot-legged Wood Turtle (Rhinoclemmys punctularia) can be found in South America in places such as Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad, and Tobago and Venezuela.

Most South American Wood Turtles are imported from Guyana and surrounding areas. This species is known to have parasites or other health issues during transportation.  Your wood turtle should be checked by a reptile veterinarian because most issues can be treated. Healthy turtles and tortoises will feel heavy and are bright-eyed and active.

South American Wood Turtles are omnivores that eat a large variety of foods. Leafy greens and fruit, such as banana, grapes, and melon, should be offered. They also will eat commercial aquatic turtle food and relish high-quality canned dog food.

This reptile also enjoys insects such as crickets, mealworms, slugs, and earthworms. Gut loading your live food is a great way to provide nutritional value. You can also dust with a high-quality multi-vitamin and calcium supplement powder.

This is a semi-terrestrial turtle breed, so you will need to have an enclosure that will mimic the environment of a marshy pond turtle, but it will need to bit a bit drier.

Wood Turtles, in general, should be provided with various hiding places, such as piles of dried leaves and cork bark tubes because they can be shy.

You may notice that, as you approach, your turtle will run to a sheltered spot and then come back out cautiously if you begin to offer him some food.

“Conservation Through Captive Propagation.”

Captive-hatched Wood Turtles make better pets than those caught in the wild and imported. Not only is a captive bred animal healthier it is also calmer. With proper care and handling, these intelligent turtles can become docile to the point that they can be fed by hand.

A female Spot-legged Wood Turtle will lay two to four eggs at a time. They will lay

hard-shelled fertile eggs about every six weeks to eight weeks from October to April. Females may deposit up to 4 clutches per year. Breeding usually occurs between August and December.

If oviposition is witnessed, the eggs are removed and placed in an incubator immediately the Incubation at approximately 82.4 F takes around three and a half months or 105 days.

However, if egg laying is not witnessed, and the eggs are not removed within say 24 or 48 hours, they can enter a diapause (dormant) state where their development is delayed for up to six months. Thus, eggs can take up to nine and a half months to hatch.

Females sometimes have difficulty passing their eggs, especially if the diet lacks sufficient calcium. Gravid (egg-bearing) females usually become restless and may refuse food.  This species lays very large eggs that measure. Hense, gravid females that do not nest should be seen by a veterinarian as egg retention always leads to a fatal infection called egg peritonitis.

The name pulcherrima is derived from the Latin word pulcherrimus (prettiest) and refers to the colorful head and shell markings of the juvenile holotype of this species. The not so common name was ‘‘The Dotted Emys’’ described by Gray, 1856.

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