Coahuilan Box Turtle: Ultimate Guide

Male vs Female

Many animals have very little distinction between males and females. However, for Coahuilan Box Turtles there are quite a few significant differences between the two sexes.

For example, male Coahuilan Box Turtles tend to have brown eyes, whereas their female counterparts have pale, gray-colored eyes.

Another physical difference between them is that males tend to have longer and thicker tails, as well as larger shells than their female counterparts. This makes them appear bigger.

They also have a plastral concavity. This is to help with mating. Females, on the other hand, do not have this.


The best way of identifying a Coahuilan Box Turtle is by looking at its shells. They are very prone to having algae growing right onto the exterior of their shells.

You can also look at whether their shells are hinged. All box turtles have hinged shells to allow them to enclose themselves when they feel they are under threat.

If you are trying to identify a male Coahuilan Box Turtle apart from a female Coahuilan Box Turtle, the best way of doing this is by investigating their eye color.

Male Coahuilan Box Turtles will have dark brown eyes whereas the females will have gray eyes. Males will also be bigger, especially in terms of shell and til size.

As a Pet

Coahuilan Box Turtles are a very desired type of pet to have because of their small size and ornate colors. However, we are sorry to tell you that it is not advised that you keep a Coahuilan Box Turtle as a pet unless you are willing to take on lots of responsibility.

It is very unlikely that you will find Coahuilan Box Turtles on the market as pets. However, this is not a bad thing!

There are not many of them in the pet trade, and the reason for that is because they are classed as an endangered species. There are thought to be just 2000 of them in the wild.

Sometimes they may be made available through illegal means, and other times you may be able to get one as a pet if you apply for a special permit to do so.

They have been placed as Appendix I on the Endangered Species list, which means they are banned for commercial trade. This means they are generally only allowed for scientific purposes and conservation purposes, hence why a permit is needed.

That being said, Coahuilan Box Turtles are thought to do better in captivity, but only when looked after by experienced reptile experts and those who care for them properly.


The lifespan of the Coahuilan Box Turtle is varied, depending on whether they live in the wild or in captivity. They are generally expected to live much longer in captivity, as they are less exposed to risks, illnesses, and predators.

The longest recorded captivity lifespan is 18.8 years. In the wild, this is just 9.4 years, which is almost half of what you can expect in captivity.

Of course, other factors can affect this, such as the genetic disposition of the individual turtle, but generally, they can last between 5 and 18 years, depending on their circumstances.


The main adaptation of the Coahuilan Box Turtles is thought to be the fact that they have developed from a non-aquatic species (the common box turtle) to survive in the very harsh desert springs of Cuatro Cienegas.

They are the only aquatic species of the Terrapene genus, which is extremely impressive, demonstrating the extent of the adaptations it has had to make.

Breeding Season

The breeding season of the Coahuilan Box Turtles usually runs from September to June. During this time, it is very common to find them mating in shallow waters.

This is a long mating season, and they can get pregnant quickly. They tend to lay their eggs from May to September, and then they are back at it again!

Read on to the next section to learn more about these eggs and how they are laid.


The eggs of the Coahuilan Box Turtle are typically laid in clutches. This refers to a group of eggs that are laid at one single time, usually in one single place. The clutches of eggs laid by Coahuilan Box Turtles are very small, usually only containing 2 or 3 eggs.

This means that there will be 2 or 3 hatchlings (provided they all survive). There are some risks associated with this egg-laying since the eggs are desirable for a number of the predators of Coahuilan Box Turtles. We will explore these predators in more detail later in the article.

Growth Rate

Their growth rate is one of indeterminate growth, meaning they will continue growing throughout their life. Males tend to grow at a much faster rate than females and typically reach larger sizes.

They tend to weigh around 5.61 g as a hatchling, as they are very small. However, it can be difficult to determine just how big they will get due to the nature of their growth rates.

Life Cycle

Generally, when a Coahuilan Box Turtle is born, they are fully independent. Sure, they are small, but they continue to grow through their life.

Their life cycle may vary depending on the sex, and it is thought that males reach sexual maturity at around 6 years old. Female Coahuilan Box Turtles reach it at around 8 years old.


Coahuilan Box Turtles are classed as an endangered species and have been recognized as a species that is very likely to become extinct in the future. There are thought to be around 2000 of them in the wild at the moment.


Coahuilan Box Turtles are known as opportunistic omnivores, this means that they eat both plant life and insects. They rarely eat fish and crustaceans, and they are thought to make up less than 1% of their diet.

You are more likely to find them chowing down on beetles, dragonfly nymphs, fly larvae, algae, and spike rush. You may also find them eating mushrooms, although this is less common. Of course, these are their food habits in the wild. When kept in captivity or pets they may have an even more varied diet.


Because of the relatively small size of Coahuilan Box Turtles, and the small size of their eggs, they are susceptible to being preyed on. The biggest predators of Coahuilan Box Turtles are raccoons, coyotes, striped skunks, copperheads (these are a species of snake), and opossums. Coahuilan Box Turtles and their eggs are preyed on by these predators, and so living in the wild presents them with huge risks.

Roaming Range

Whilst there are no definitive figures for the roaming range of Coahuilan Box Turtles, usually box turtles will have a roaming range of around 50 yards each day. They do not tend to roam very far from where they set up home. Many Coahuilan Box Turtles never move further than 250 yards from where they were born!


Some diseases that can affect Coahuilan Box Turtles include respiratory issues, shell fractures and infections, vitamin deficiency, and parasites. They are also known to carry salmonella, and so also present a risk to humans.

Eye Color

The eye color of Coahuilan Box Turtlesdepends on their sex. Males tend to have dark brown eyes. This is a great way of distinguishing them from female Coahuilan Box Turtles who have light gray eyes.


Coahuilan Box Turtles do not typically hibernate. They are active all year round but have been known to hibernate in the case of extreme climate occurrences. They will do this for safety.

Can they swim?

Yes! These turtles spend 90% of their time in the water, and so they are well adapted to moving about in there. They are good swimmers, but they do also need some dry land to relax and bask in the sun.


If you are caring for a Coahuilan Box Turtle you need to ensure that you have an aquarium set up for them, since they spend 90% of their time in the water. They will need an aquarium pump and a good filtration setup.

Around 75 to 100 gallons of water should be enough. They should not be in a tank full of water, but rather in an enclosure with the ability to be in and out of the water as desired. In other words, they need dry land on which they can bask.

Ensure you have lots of plants in your aquarium enclosure such as spike rush. This will keep them satisfied as they rely on them for a food source. You should also ensure they have a log to hide and relax if needed, as well as some good lighting.

This is needed as they need to synthesize vitamin D. As such, you should purchase a light source with artificial UVB light, or place them near some natural light.


The cost of Coahuilan Box Turtles is hard to determine since they are banned for commercial sale. This means that many illegal traders will price them very highly.