Chinese pond turtle (Mauremys reevesii)

Chinese pond turtle on rock
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Chinese pond turtle fact file

Chinese pond turtle description

GenusMauremys (1)

The diminutive Chinese pond turtle (Mauremys reevesii) has a somewhat rectangular upper shell (carapace) with three distinct keels, or ridges, running down its length, which become worn and less pronounced with age (4) (5). The upper shell typically ranges from tan to dark brown (4) (5), while the skin is usually grey-green with yellowish spots and a distinctive pattern of yellow stripes running along the sides of the head and neck (5) (6). However, the shell and skin of melanistic individuals may be completely black and lack this striping (2) (6). Melanism occurs very rarely in females, but is common in older males. The lower shell (plastron) is generally yellow with a large brown blotch on each scute, but is dark brown or black in melanistic individuals (2).

Also known as
Chinese coin turtle, Chinese three-keeled pond turtle, golden turtle, Japanese coin turtle, Reeves’ turtle.
Chinemys reevesii.
Carapace length: up to 23.6 cm (2)

Chinese pond turtle biology

The Chinese pond turtle mates in spring, with nesting occurring in June and July, and up to three clutches of four to nine eggs are laid each season. Newly hatched young in Japan reportedly spend the winter in the nest and emerge in March or April the following spring (2).

This is an omnivorous species that feeds on aquatic plants and fruits as well as worms, aquatic insects, frogs and fishes (2).


Chinese pond turtle range

Recorded from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and Korea (5).


Chinese pond turtle habitat

Usually found in relatively shallow ponds, marshes, streams and canals that have muddy or sandy bottoms (2) (5). These semi-aquatic turtles will frequently leave the water to bask on rocks or logs (5).


Chinese pond turtle status

The Chinese pond turtle is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1) and listed on Appendix III of CITES in China (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered


Chinese pond turtle threats

The Chinese pond turtle makes a popular pet and this has led to its over-collection in China, where the species is also eaten. Elsewhere, the turtle is considered to be under little risk (2).


Chinese pond turtle conservation

Its listing on Appendix III of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in China helps regulate the number of Chinese pond turtles that can be exported (3). Fortunately, this species breeds well in captivity and captive-bred individuals now supply much of the demand in the pet market (4).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

For more information on the Chinese pond turtle see: 



Authenticated (17/12/07) by Dr. Gerald Kuchling, Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation and Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the University of Western Australia.



Opposite of albinism: the tendency of an organism to be a dramatically darker colour than normal due to an increased amount of brown to black pigmentation in the skin, feathers or hair of the individual.
An organism that feeds on both plants and animals.
One of the large keratinous scales on the carapace (the top shell of a turtle or tortoise).


  1. IUCN Red List (July, 2011)
  2. Ernst, C.H., Altenburg, R.G.M. and Barbour, R.W. (1997) Turtles of the World. ETI Information Systems Ltd, Netherlands.
  3. CITES (July, 2011)
  4. The Asian Turtle Consortium (February, 2007)
  5. Kirkpatrick, D.T. The Reeve’s Turtle, Chinemys reevesii: An Alternative to Sliders and Painted Turtles. (February, 2007)
  6. U.S. Geological Survey (USGS): NAS - Nonindigenous Aquatic Species (February, 2007)

Image credit

Chinese pond turtle on rock  
Chinese pond turtle on rock

© Vladimír Motycka

Vladimír Motycka


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