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Malaysian Box Turtle

The Malayan box turtle, also known as the South East Asian box turtle or the domed Malayan box turtle is a subspecies of the Amboina box turtle. However, the name ‘Malayan box turtle’ is commonly used for the entire Amboina box turtle species.

These turtles are aquatic and spend almost all their lives in water. They are actually the most predominantly aquatic box turtle, though they aren’t the only one. The Coahuilan Box Turtle is also an aquatic box turtle.

Malaysian Box Turtle Facts and Information

The Malayan box turtles are localized to the low-lying forests of Southeast Asia where they inhabit warm water bodies. The four subspecies of the Cuora amboinensis can be found in different areas in Southeast Asia.

Each subspecies is habitat-specific. This behavior is unique to the Malayan box turtle. They live in tropical rainforests where humidity is high and temperatures are 75 to 95 degrees.

In the wild, they are never found in areas where the temperature falls under 70 degrees. They have a lifespan of up to 38 years in captivity and 30 years in the wild.

The Cuora amboinensis belongs to the family Geoemydidae and the genus Cuora (Asia box turtles). The Asia box turtle genus includes 12 species of which the Cuora amboinensis is part.

This species has an olive to dark olive-colored head with three yellow stripes on either side. Their carapace is also dark olive. Shell shape depends on the subspecies.

For instance, C. a. couro and C. a. amboinensis have shallow shells, while C. a. kamarona and C. a. lineata have high domed shells. Their shells grow up to about 200 mm (8 inches).

Malaysian Box Turtle There aren’t obvious differences between male and female.

Malaysian Box Turtle Diet

Malayan box turtles have similar feeding habits as other box turtles. In water, this box turtles feed on crustaceans, aquatic insects, mollusks, and aquatic plants. On land, they feed on worms, insects, terrestrial plants and mushrooms.

Malayan box turtles don’t need to eat every day; they can survive on two feedings a week. However, it is best to feed them every two to three days.

The young must be fed daily. As aquatic turtles, they must be fed in water. To prevent their aquariums from getting dirty from feeding, you can feed them in a separate container.

You can feed them a variety of meats, vegetables, and fruits. They enjoy eating mushrooms, greens such as lettuce, and spinach, and fruits such as strawberries, bananas, and melons. They will also feed on fish, wax worms, snails, prawns and insects such as crickets.

They also eat commercially prepared turtle pellets such as Gourmet Aquatic Turtle Food.

Malaysian Box Turtle Habitat

In the wild, these turtles live in rainforest regions where temperatures are above 75 degrees. They prefer to live in warm waters and can be found in shallow ponds, marshes, and rice paddies.

The only time they leave the water is to bask and lay eggs. They even mate in water. When building a habitat for a Malayan box turtle, you should take their aquatic nature into consideration. It isn’t uncommon to find aquatic box turtles housed in terrestrial habitat – which is unsuitable.

These turtles need large aquariums/enclosures with water capacity of 75 gallons. The water mustn’t be deep as these turtles are clumsy swimmers.

The enclosure also needs a pump such as a filtration system like the TetraPond Submersible Flat Box Filter.

While these turtles spend most of their time in water, they still need to bask. The basking area needs to be large enough to allow movement. It also needs to be easily accessible to small aquatic turtles.

You can create your own basking area using rocks and stones, or you can acquire one from a turtle pet shop. An example of a great basking platform is the Turtle-Topper Above-Tank Basking Platform

We’ve also done a guide on the best turtle docks which you can check out for some other options and a more in depth look at them.

The basking spot also needs a heat lamp that can produce temperatures between 86 to 90 degrees. The temperature of the water must be between 75 to 85 degrees (ideally 82 degrees). A UVB light is also needed.

Malaysian Box Turtle Breeding

The Cuora amboinensis copulate in water. After copulation, the female lays eggs in nests dug in moist well-drained soil. Incubation of the eggs takes about 75 days.

The female Cuora amboinensis can lay various clutches in a year with each clutch having one to five eggs. Warm temperature encourages reproduction in this species.

They usually reach sexual maturity at 4 or 5 years.

Malaysian Box Turtle Predators

As with the many other different types of turtles, the eggs of these box turtles are a food source to several animals such as birds, small mammals, crocodiles, monitor lizard and many more.

The adults hardly have any predators although water monitor lizards are potential predators of this species. This box turtle also preys on crustaceans, insects, worms, and mollusks.

Malaysian Box Turtle Endangerment

The Cuora amboinensis is considered to be vulnerable to extinction on the IUCN red list. In many Asian countries, they are harvested for food, as souvenirs, and for traditional Chinese medicine. In addition, they are exported to North America and Europe for the pet trade.


When acquiring the Malayan box turtle do so from a reputable pet shop or turtle breeder. This ensures that you are not contributing to the extinction of this wondrous turtle. These box turtles are known for their hardiness and as such make great pets.

With the right living condition and care, they can live up to 35 years. Because turtles live long, getting one requires a long-term commitment. We look forward to reading your comments.

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Nancy Nebgen

Friday 1st of January 2021

I've had my Malaysian Box Turtle, Bobby for 23 years. She recently stopped eating. Her diet is a variety of fresh leafy greens, veggies, fruits, a dry box turtle food and some meal worms. Do you have any advice to help me with her? Thank you, Nancy


Wednesday 9th of December 2020

Thanks for the website! I’ve had my Malaysian box turtle for a while now, but there’s not many good sources on care. We got him from the neighbors who took care of him horribly. They thought he was a tortoise and didn’t feed him much. I think he got fed like once a month on tortoise pellets :(. But now he is well beyond spoiled!

Sebastian A Tapay

Monday 6th of April 2020

I am buying (Malayan box turtle) Thanks for this website. Because of this website I can research Everything for my turtle now I know everything I can now buy a Malayan Box turtle.thank you.

Joji miller

Thursday 16th of April 2020

Hey where can you buy a malaysian box turtle?


Tuesday 10th of March 2020

My turtle wont eat anything but his pelets. His pelets are spoiled so are there any other ways to feed him? I tried lettuce, some leaves, bananas, and strawberries. I dont think i can buy turtle food for now