Painted wood turtle

(Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima manni)

The ornate or painted wood turtle is one of nine turtle species of the genus Rhinoclemmys of the family Geoemydidae. There are four recognized subspecies.

Conservation status


Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Order: Testudines
Family: Geoemydidae
Genus: Rhinoclemmys
Specie: Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima
Subspecie: Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima manni


Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima is an attractive species with thin red lines on the face and extensive areas of red and black vermiculations on the limbs, thighs, and tail as well as on the ventral parts of the marginal scutes and near the midline of the plastron. It has a small head with finely serrated jaw edges. The carapace is light brown with a ridge down the middle and moderate sculpturing on the scutes. The plastron is yellowish with red markings visible on the marginals. The shell is somewhat elongated.

Males reach a carapace length of 18 cm and have a concave plastron and a longer thicker tail, with the vent beyond the carapacial margin. Females are larger (up to 20 cm CL) with a flat plastron that is slightly upturned anteriorly, and a shorter tail with the vent beneath the carapace edge. The carapace is flatter and broader in the northern parts of the range, and domed and narrower southward. One subspecies, Rhinoclemmys p. rogerbarbouri has an interesting carapace that is somewhat wedge-shaped dorsally and with straight, posteriorly diverging sides, and upturned marginal edges in some specimens. This forms a "gutter" that may serve to direct rain water towards the mouth, as has been observed with some species of tortoises.


It is found in Mexico (from Sonora southwards) and Central America, as far south as Costa Rica.


Painted wood turtles live in rainforests, shallow rivers and bushes. Although they are mostly terrestrial, but can also be floor born in shallow water.


The painted wood turtle feeds on fruit, insects, and worms.


Painted wood turtles are oviparous. Females lay 3-5 eggs at a time. Eggs at low temperatures can be dormant early stages, and can sleep for some time at low temperatures, when the temperature returns to normal incubation can proceed.

Zoológico de Vallarta A. C.

Leave your comments, your opinion is important to us