Visually speaking, the Golden Thread Turtle stands out from much of the global turtle population due to its unique and beautiful coloring. However, there is much more to the Golden Thread Turtle than meets the eye.
You may also hear the Golden Thread Turtle referred to as the Chinese Stripe-Necked Turtle, or by its scientific name: Mauremys sinensis.
Today’s Ultimate Guide to the Golden Thread Turtle will cover all the information you need to know about this species, both from a wild and domestic standpoint.
Male vs. Female
As is the case with a significant portion of turtle species, you can identify a male Golden Thread Turtle by the fact that the males of this species have thicker and longer tails than the females.
The males are also smaller than the females, although they reach their mature size faster (see ‘Growth Rate’ for further information).
The female turtles can reach a maximum size of 4 inches larger than males. The maximum size for females is 12 inches long, while males usually only reach a maximum of 8 inches.
The Golden Thread Turtle’s distinctive coloring, which is where the species derives its common name from, is the easiest way to identify the turtle.
While shell patterns are often the best identifier for many turtle species, the Golden Thread Turtle is most easily identified by the patterns on its skin. The face, neck, and upper limbs of the Golden Thread Turtle are adorned with yellow and brown stripes.
A yellow swirling pattern can also be observed on the backs of the limbs.
As a Pet
In certain areas of Asia, the Golden Thread Turtle is a relatively popular pet. However, it is not commonly kept as a pet in the United States.
It is thought that this turtle’s involvement in the pet trade is partially responsible for its near-extinction status in the wild.
Golden Thread Turtles can live for a very long time, especially in their natural habitat. Most healthy turtles of this species live for over 40 years, and it’s not uncommon for them to live for 60 years in the wild.
One of the biggest adaptations that Golden Thread Turtles have for their survival are muscular legs and webbing between their toes. Both of these features help them to move in the water, even in the presence of a current.
The swimming-related features of the Golden Thread Turtle help this species to adapt to various aquatic environments, including rivers.
Golden Thread Turtles breed between spring and early summer. Breeding season is usually between April and June, which is one of the earliest windows observed by turtle experts.
Female Golden Thread Turtles can lay anywhere between 5 and 20 eggs at one time. Once the clutch is laid, the eggs typically take around 60 days (2 months) to hatch.
Most of the time, Golden Thread Turtles have been observed to grow relatively slowly. However, the growth rate is largely dependent on external factors such as how much food the turtle has access to.
In some cases, Golden Thread Turtles can grow as much as 4 inches in their first year. Considering that male Golden Thread Turtles don’t typically get any larger than 8 inches, this is quite an impressive early growth rate.
Hatchling Golden Thread Turtles are usually 1 ½ inches in length. During the first year of their lives, provided that they have enough food, the turtles can grow up to 4 inches.
At this point, many males will almost have reached sexual maturity, which happens at 5 inches. Females, however, will take longer to reach maturity, which occurs at roughly 7 inches.
Once the turtles reach maturity, they can begin to breed. Breeding season, as we’ve mentioned, is between April and June. Females can produce up to 4 clutches of eggs each year.
Sadly, the Golden Thread Turtle’s population status is not a promising one. The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has listed this turtle’s conservation status as Endangered.
This means that there is only one ranking (Critically Endangered) between this species’ current status and the species becoming extinct in the wild.
The Golden Thread Turtle is omnivorous, so it’s happy to eat animal protein as well as certain types of vegetation.
This turtle species tends to be more carnivorous in its juvenile years before diversifying its diet later in life.
Most of the protein in Golden Thread Turtles’ diets comes from insects. However, they can also eat larvae and worms, particularly as juveniles. Older Golden Thread Turtles can eat crustaceans.
The Golden Thread Turtle can be found all the way from Eastern China to Laos and Central Vietnam. Some Golden Thread Turtles have also been spotted in Taiwan and Hainan.
This is a fairly wide roaming range, although given the conservation status of this species, the Golden Thread Turtle’s presence (at least in the wild) will be limited.
Golden Thread Turtles are not particularly susceptible to disease compared to some other turtle species globally.
However, if they become injured or are not kept in the right conditions, the likelihood of disease increases dramatically.
Respiratory diseases are not uncommon when the air temperature in the turtle’s enclosure is not warm enough compared to the water temperature.
Baby turtles of this species can develop fungal infections, which are basically impossible to reverse once they have set in, and ultimately lead to death.
Moreover, as an aquatic turtle species, the Golden Thread Turtle is prone to parasitic infections from parasites that may live in water. These parasites can be either internal or external.
The Golden Thread Turtle’s eye color is one of the most beautiful of all turtle species. If you look closely, you’ll see that the irises are a shining gold color with a dark bar traversing them.
For the most part, Golden Thread Turtles do not need to hibernate, and experts actually believe that doing so is not good for them.
Despite this, Golden Thread Turtles have been known to go into hibernation during the winter months if it gets particularly cold. This is another reason on top of their precarious conservation status why experts generally do not recommend keeping Golden Thread Turtles as pets, especially outside of their native environment.
Can They Swim?
Golden Thread Turtles are aquatic by nature, meaning that they spend most of their lives in the water as opposed to on land.
Because of this, by necessity, the Golden Thread Turtle is a strong swimmer. As we mentioned previously, they have very strong and muscular legs in addition to webbed toes in order to help them move through the water quickly. Even a moderately strong current won’t deter this turtle species from getting in the water.
Golden Thread Turtles are not demanding or high-maintenance, but it’s still important to understand how to care for one properly if you are considering keeping a Golden Thread Turtle as a pet.
Because Golden Thread Turtles need a gallon of water per inch of their length, we recommend having a tank with at least an 80-gallon capacity for a male Golden Thread Turtle, and at least 120 gallons for a female. This will be large enough to cater to even the largest of the species.
In addition to the water, which needs to be kept at 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll need a basking platform that can’t be easily dislodged.
The air temperature in the tank needs to be between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Sufficient heating should be provided by UVB lighting, which should be on during the day and turned off at night to mimic natural lighting conditions.
Make sure that your turtle’s diet consists of between 30 and 40 percent protein from insects and other animal sources as described in our ‘Diet’ section. Other food sources should come from vegetation. Romaine lettuce is a good choice, as are duckweed and water lettuce.
Golden Thread Turtles are not very expensive (around $50) when purchased as hatchlings. However, the price of buying a Golden Thread Turtle will increase as the turtle increases in size.
Turtles with injuries or shell damage are typically sold at lower prices, although these turtles are often susceptible to infection and disease and will need significant medical care.
When purchasing a Golden Thread Turtle, remember that you will need to purchase at least an 80-gallon tank to cater to the smaller male turtles of the species, increasing to up to 120 gallons if you have a female.
These tanks can be expensive, and the cost increases when you add substrate, UVB lighting, temperature monitoring, filtration systems, and food.
- Golden Thread Turtles may become obese because of their voracious appetites. These turtles will generally eat whatever is available to them, so careful diet monitoring is needed to ensure that they don’t become unhealthy.
- The Golden Thread Turtle is an easy species to hybridize, both with members of the same species and with other more distantly related species.