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

Copyright 2003 World Chelonian Trust. All rights reserved

This southern Cuora galbinifrons subspecies from southern Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos used to be extremely common in the pet trade in the United States.  They could often be found for $50 in various pet stores but are for the most part no longer seen.  Nicknamed "hell in a shell" by vets and keepers who have had to treat them, once cleaned up and adapted to captivity, Cuora galbinifrons picturata  ( shortcut named "pics"  for the subspecies) have proven to be extremely hardy and very much like native Terrapenes.


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 galbinifrons  - 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 picturata from the other Cuora galbinifrons subspecies


1. The plastrons of Cuora galbinifrons picturata have large black blotches covering most of each scute as seen below..





These blotches fade in extremely senescent  animals such as the old specimen below.



2. The side profile of Cuora galbinifrons picturata is EXTREMELY pronounced in terms of it's height.  They are also not as lengthy as the Cuora galbinifrons galbinifrons.



3. Still another method of differentiating them is by their facial features.  The reticulated yellow pattern of their heads is a classic feature of this subspecies.



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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