In the future, we would like to see captive animals in the US separated by locality, making the population more valuable to conservation. The project requires funding for enclosure design, food, and animal enrichment. With more than 20 animals that need to be housed individually, the need for these items is always there. We are currently in the process of building a Geoemyda spengleri housing system that provides everything they need and allows for keeping 16 adult turtles in individual enclosures.
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This diminutive terrestrial emydid has been known variously as the Vietnamese leaf turtle, black breasted leaf turtle, Indo-Chinese serrated turtle, scalloped leaf turtle and Vietnamese wood turtle. All of these common names are suitably descriptive, but for the sake of uniformity, Vietnamese leaf turtle or G. Although first described by Gmelin in , very little has subsequently come to light about the natural history or precise geographic distribution of the Vietnamese leaf turtle.
Definite records exist for southernmost China and Vietnam Fan, ; Bourret, ; Petzold, and However, literature records from Borneo, Sumatra, and the Philippines have been based on hearsay or on misidentified specimens of Heosemys spinosa Mertens, and possibly on specimens of an undescribed form as well Aoki, pers.
The group of Southeast Asian turtles commonly referred to as "leaf turtles" and embracing the genera Cyclemys, Goemyda, Heosemys, Notochelys, and Pyxidea remains the focus of polite disagreement among chelonian turtle taxonomists. For an excellent contemporary discussion of the pros and cons of various phylogenetic arrangements, see Yasukawa et al. Since the turn of the century, leaf turtles inhabiting Okinawa and a few offshore islets were considered a subspecies known as Geoemyda spengleri japonica.
Somewhat larger and more robust than its mainland cousins, the insular Ryuku Islands leaf turtle is further distinguished by the presence of axillary and often inguinal plates as well, distinctive relative placement of carapace annuli, weaker scalloping of the posterior marginals, more closely apposed nostrils, and the lack of sexual dichromatism.
There are skeletal differences between the two forms as well as more subtle differences. Based on their exhaustive comparisons among dozens of living and preserved specimens of both mainland and insular races, Yasukawa et al.
Adult G. Their elongate, flattened, 3-keeled, posteriorly saw-toothed carapaces are distinctive. The ground color of the carapace varies considerably from orange yellow to reddish orange to drab olive, often with a complex underlying pattern of pale flecks in the underlying connective tissue.
The effect can be so striking as to be described as opalescent. The jagged posterior marginals, sometimes delicately upturned, bear out the overall similarity to a dry leaf and also recall the scalloping of the roof tiles of a pagoda. The unhinged plastron provides other distinguishing features, chiefly the large, symmetrical black central figure. This dark blotch is edged in yellow or off-white, sometimes pressing chevron-like V-shaped towards the midline yielding a "Christmas tree" outline.
Axillary and inguinal plates are almost always absent; the gulars are almost rectangular. Although juveniles and adults share relatively dark soft parts attractively speckled with red or white spots, females and juveniles bear white, yellow, or reddish stripes on the head and neck. Aside from the difference in head coloration, males are smaller overall with a much longer tail and more distally located cloaca, bearing a slight plastral concavity. It is not known at what size or age the secondary sexual differences become manifest, as hatchlings exhibit the female head and neck coloration.
As far as is known, the first living specimens of Geoemyda spengleri to reach the western world were brought to East Berlin from what was then North Vietnam in The late Hans-Guenter Petzold imported at least eight of these turtles including a juvenile, along with specimens of several other poorly known Southeast Asian chelonians. To his credit, Petzold provided useful information about the relatively cool, very wet montane habitat of this species as well as its intolerance of excessively hot, "tropical" vivarium conditions.
Captive diet was also discussed in detail. Although the longevity of these original animals is unknown, the earliest known importation of specimens into the United States was in and consisted of several juveniles allegedly captive-bred in Czechoslovakia.
Whether any of these animals, offered by a Miami dealer, survives today is unknown to me. The next specimen which I saw, an adult female, was in a private collection in March and was said at the time to be the only one of its species in California.
This turtle was primarily goldfish. My experience with Geoemyda spengleri really began with the acquisition of an adult pair in November, Still going strong, these unusually large specimens 4.
Initial prophylaxis with Metronidazole administered orally Buskirk, was done empirically as a safeguard against protozoan infection The only health problem experienced by either specimen subsequently, was a rapidly developing case of necrotizing stomatitis mouth rot in the female.
This was treated successfully with injections of Amikacin, a gram-negative antibacterial medication, and local debridement necessary removal of infected tissue. The female still has difficulty consuming earthworms, owing to the partial loss of her mandible. Several turtle keepers have reported the sudden death of apparently healthy Vietnamese leaf turtles Nicol, Although no microbiological exam was done, the colon of the turtle upon necropsy was blocked with copious mucus.
Nicol discusses problems with shell rot, glossitis, and ocular inflammation. My remaining experiences with and observations of Geoemyda spengIeri have been singularly positive and upbeat.
It is fortunate that I have had access to European literature and to reptile staff in zoological institutions skilled in keeping this species as well. Practices credited to published works that do not differ significantly from my own are clearly thus indicated. First, as mentioned in the introductory paragraph relating to Petzold, Vietnamese leaf turtles do not like it hot! Although Rudloff is actually the second person known to have bred this species in captivity, his excellent paper on reproduction-oriented husbandry remains the "gold standard.
Trying to maintain this species outdoors year round in central Florida where it gets quite warm, may have contributed to the high mortality reported by Nicol Rudloff advocates a 9-hour photophase in January and a hour photophase in July via a timed watt incandescent bulb in a corner of the tank.
He also uses a watt fluorescent lamp. I will now describe the suggested enclosure. As one would expect from a humidity-loving, but terrestrial, small turtle, a soft substrate such as sphagnum moss or cypress mulch is best.
Rudloff advocates non-manured peat mixed with sand and leaves. As he suggests, the substrate should be misted daily - sometimes I spray it twice daily. One or more shallow water dishes should be provided. The turtles will sometimes copulate in these and generally defecate in them.
Reportedly, the Fort Worth Zoo has kept G. Rudloff suggests that juveniles are more water-loving than adults, echoing Felix For cover sites, thin pieces of wood or sections of board serve well, as do broken flower pots a personal favorite. It is important, however, not to crowd the interior and thereby block the running about which is involved in courtship.
Even more crucial to breeding success, is to allow plenty of room - at least 39 inches 1 m on one side, according to Rudloff. The adoption of his space criteria has, in my opinion, been one of the factors responsible for the successful breeding of my pair of G.
Petzold lists other dietary items of captives as follows: "weevils and earthworms, ground meat, bananas, carrots, and less often, lettuce and cabbage. He advocates feeding these turtles sparingly, probably good advice for all adult carnivorous turtles. While in nearly eight years my original two 1.
Like many chelonians, Vietnamese leaf turtles often do not move unless there is a specific reason for them to so. As Rudloff is keen to point out, they will sit motionless for hours, heads held high and eyes wide open. This bittern-like stance may be interrupted by the presence of prey. However, they are easily distracted by motion, and will forsake the prey in their jaws to pursue another turtle which is trying to feed simultaneously.
Therefore, visual separation at feeding time is often advisable. The other major interaction between these turtles occurs during mating. In my experience, there is little they would rather do, particularly early in the morning. Only on the hottest of days, unusual in coastal northern California, and also during the shortest winter days, do they eschew procreation. There is little formal courtship other than first facing one another with necks outstretched Rudloff. However, my male sometimes quietly mounts the female from behind without having bothered to reintroduce himself.
Only occasionally, I have observed the chasing about the enclosure described by Rudloff. Rudloff advocates seasonal separation of male and female once the latter becomes gravid, coinciding with her sudden hostile behavior towards the male. He observed mating most frequently in autumn after the central heating in his apartment was turned on, following a drop in ambient temperature in late summer.
Conditions in private U. By early December, my leaf turtles become nearly quiescent, only occasionally stirring to bask and even less often to feed, and remain this way for six to eight weeks. Indeed, my 1. Two other seasoned captive females, at different times, have been introduced to the enclosure in hopes they would also become gravid, and each has charged at the male or gaped menacingly at his most timid approach. One of these females has bitten the limbs of the other three Vietnamese leaf turtles, and neither ever permitted being mounted, insofar as was observed.
Although Rudloff considers this species too delicate to be kept with other turtle species, the female exhibiting consistent intraspecific aggression has since managed to live in peace with four larger Asian terrestrial emydids. The egg had banded and increased from an initial weight of only 4. The larger egg was opened a week following the hatching of the smaller one and found to contain a dead but well developed embryo lacking a tail and a portion of the right posterior carapace.
An additional three G. The hobbyist who oversaw the incubation of this trio strongly advises against interfering with the hatching of G. Table 1.
This diminutive terrestrial emydid has been known variously as the Vietnamese leaf turtle, black breasted leaf turtle, Indo-Chinese serrated turtle, scalloped leaf turtle and Vietnamese wood turtle. All of these common names are suitably descriptive, but for the sake of uniformity, Vietnamese leaf turtle or G. Although first described by Gmelin in , very little has subsequently come to light about the natural history or precise geographic distribution of the Vietnamese leaf turtle. Definite records exist for southernmost China and Vietnam Fan, ; Bourret, ; Petzold, and However, literature records from Borneo, Sumatra, and the Philippines have been based on hearsay or on misidentified specimens of Heosemys spinosa Mertens, and possibly on specimens of an undescribed form as well Aoki, pers. The group of Southeast Asian turtles commonly referred to as "leaf turtles" and embracing the genera Cyclemys, Goemyda, Heosemys, Notochelys, and Pyxidea remains the focus of polite disagreement among chelonian turtle taxonomists.
Black-breasted leaf turtle