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Cuora galbinifrons galbinifrons  - Visual Determination of Subspecies - Chris Tabaka DVM

Copyright 2003 World Chelonian Trust. All rights reserved

This subspecies is found on Hainan Island in China as well as northern Vietnam.  It is the predominant species found in the Asian turtle markets at this time:  Cuora galbinifrons in the China Animal Markets. This is also the predominant species found in the pet trade.   While claims are being made that these animals are coming off of Hainan Island, almost all of them are coming in from Vietnam where "hunters" utilize dogs to search them out. 


Husbandry articles on the species can be found at:

Flowerback Box Turtle - Care (Cuora galbinifrons)  Sharon Chancellor

Cuora galbinifrons: A humbling experience - Sharon Chancellor

Cuora galbinifrons Update - Sharon Chancellor


An article picturing side-by-side comparisons between Cuora galbinifrons subspecies can be seen at:

Differentiating Cuora galbinifrons subspecies - Chris Tabaka DVM


In depth pictorials of the details of the other two subspecies can be found at:

Cuora galbinifrons bourreti  - Visual Determination of Subspecies - Chris Tabaka DVM

Cuora galbinifrons picturata  - Visual Determination of Subspecies - Chris Tabaka DVM


Quiz: Name that Cuora galbinifrons Subspecies - Chris Tabaka DVM and Sharon Chancellor

Differentiating Male and Female Cuora galbinifrons (Flowerback Box Turtle) - Chris Tabaka DVM and Sharon Chancellor, MT


Cuora photograph Gallery

The latest Ask the Vet column in the World Chelonian Trust print newsletter (August, 2002) contains a medical column on the most commonly faced problems and solutions in this species.


Differentiation of Cuora galbinifrons galbinifrons from the other Cuora galbinifrons subspecies


1.   The easiest way  to differentiate  Cuora galbinifrons galbinifrons (loosely called galb galbs) from the other subspecies is their completely black plastron as seen below.





Though the plastron will lighten as they age such as in the ancient female pictured below,  it should always be black in coloration.




2. Another way to differentiate this subspecies from others is their "low to the ground" profile.  They are more elongated and not as "tall" as the other subspecies. Two examples of this are pictured below.





3. Still another method of differentiating them is by their facial features.  Unlike the other subspecies, this one tends to have a number of black freckles over the top of the head.  A number of facial shots can be seen below.














Old animals such as this old female tend to have faded freckles but they are still visible in the old girl pictured below.




If the above is insufficient for you to identify your Cuora galbinifrons subspecies please feel free to send a digital picture of your animal to Chris Tabaka DVM at   or Sharon Chancellor at for assistance.


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