Ornate Wood Turtle (Rhinoclemmys RP. manni)
A.K.A. Central American Ornate Wood Turtle
Ornate Wood Turtles are dark brown to black in color with orange, yellow, and green colorations. They are named for the ornate patterns on their shells. Males grow up to 7-8, while the larger females can get from 8-10 inches long. They can live as long as 50 years if properly cared for.
Habitat and Tank Requirements:
This species is native to the tropical forests of Mexico through Costa Rica.
This species does well with a sand substrate about 6-10 inches deep. Add plants, rocks, and wood so your turtle has places to bask and hide.
These turtles cannot swim, so water should be relatively shallow – just deep enough that your turtle can fully submerge in it. You can either use a shallow bowl that should be changed every other day or a water filter. When choosing a filter, use common sense: a pump that is too small will leave the water dirty, while a too-powerful pump with filter out the microorganisms needed to maintain a healthy pH. It is also recommended you spray the tank with water every 2-3 days.
Be sure your habitat has plenty of room for your turtle to move around in. Babies can be kept in a 20-30 gallon tank, but adults need a habitat as least 4’ x 3’ and 2 or more feet deep. These turtles do well in community environments.
These turtles do well with an ambient temperature of 77-86º F, though they are cold-tolerant. LEDs or other low-wattage UVB light bulbs work best for maintaining these temperatures.
A basking area should be kept at about 86-90º F. You can use either a ceramic heat emitter or a reptile basking light for this. Heat rocks are not recommended as they can burn your animal.
Ornate Wood Turtles will eat vegetables, fruits, and other plants as well as occasional crickets or mealworms. You can also feed them turtle pellets. It is recommended that food be dusted with calcium to prevent bone softening.
Allow your turtle time to become accustomed to its new home before handling them extensively. Handling them little by little over a period of time lets the animal get used to you and reduces stress. These turtles are quite friendly and with time can be hand fed.