Reeves Turtle: Ultimate Guide

Ever wanted to know more about the beautiful Reeves Turtle? You’ve come to the right place! Here, you’ll find everything you need to know about this wonderful creature.

From how to tell their sexes apart to whether or not they make a good choice of pet, you’ll find a ton of information in this ultimate guide to the Reeves Turtle. 

Male VS. Female

Reeves Turtles are one of the hardest turtles to sex as there is very little sexual dimorphism between males and females. However, this doesn’t mean it’s impossible, and the real differentiating factor lies with the turtle’s plastron (their underside). 

A male Reeves Turtle has a nominally concave plastron. A female Reeves Turtle has a flat plastron, although it might also be slightly convex. 

Another feature that tells the two sexes apart is the tail. Males have a longer, thicker tail than the female, and the vent is also slightly closer to the tip.

Aside from these two things, there really isn’t very much difference between males and females in terms of identifying features. They are practically identical in color, although males may start to become melanastic as they age. 


Reeves Turtles have many features that make them pretty easy to identify. First off, they have a carapace that ranges in color from olive green to tan and sometimes even black. You might also notice subtle color-smudging along the carapace resulting in color contrast. 

While both sexes have slightly different plastrons, the coloring remains the same between them. This will either be tan, yellow, or cream and will feature dark brown, gray, or black smudges on the scutes. 

A Reever Turtle’s skin is usually a similar color to its carapace, and it also has yellow strips that create a unique pattern along the head and neck. However, these patterns vary from turtle to turtle.

As a Pet

Reeves Turtles are one of the most popular species of turtle, especially amongst people looking to build a collection of exotic animals. The main reason for this is because they grow to an ultimate size of around 6-inches, so they are easy to manage and don’t require as much space as larger turtles.

They also have friendly personalities and will happily interact with their owner at feeding time. And, while they lack the vivid coloring that some other species of turtles boast, it’s their inquisitive, social nature that really makes them an excellent choice of pet.


When kept in captivity, you can expect a Reeves Turtle to live at least 10-15 years. However, this is dependent on them receiving proper diet, housing, and care. When given the correct living conditions, some Reeves Turtles have been known to live for up to 20 years!


One interesting adaptation that Reeves Turtles have developed is a broad head paired with a huge jaw musculature of the megalocephala. It is believed that this adaptation allows them to feed more efficiently on mollusks and crustaceans in the wild.

So, while Reeves turtles are omnivorous and will happily feed on aquatic plants and animals, they are able to consume this hard-to-eat but readily available prey with greater ease. 

Reeves Turtles have also developed an adaptation that allows them to live exclusively in the water. Ironically, however, they aren’t actually very good swimmers! As such, they will usually reside in shallower waters when living in the wild. 

When kept in captivity, they need a water depth that is at least one and a half times the length of their shell at all times. For example, a Reeves Turtle with a 4-inch long shell would need to live in water that is at least 6-inches deep. 

Breeding Season

The Reeves Turtle breeding season usually begins in early spring, typically around March, and commences throughout mid-summer before coming to an end in July.

As the start of the breeding season is approaching, male and female Reeves Turtles that are housed together should be monitored closely as aggression and violent behavior can become an issue. 

They can be reintroduced for breeding purposes, however, this needs to be done under constant supervision and only for a brief period of time. 


Once fertilization has successfully been achieved, a very brief gestation period will take place and the female will be ready to nest within 1-2 months. During this time, you may notice that the gravid female loses interest in feeding.

They may also exhibit an increased desire to leave their tank or bask excessively. This is normal behavior. 

A female Reeves Turtle will typically produce two clutches of eggs per breeding season, although this is obviously much easier to prevent when kept in captivity. The number of eggs produced will also decrease with each clutch. 

Reeves Turtle eggs range in size from 1 ¾ -inches long to 1 ½ -inches in length depending on the size of the female. Put simply, larger females will lay larger eggs and smaller females will lay smaller eggs. 

Roughly 50-80 days after laying and incubating, the eggs will begin to sweat. This is a telltale sign that they are due to hatch. Soon after they start sweating, hatching may appear in just a few hours. However, it can take several days for a hatchling to fully emerge. 

Growth Rate

Reeves Turtles grow at a relatively slow rate, and it can take as long as three years for a hatchling to reach just 2.5-inches long. This is one of the reasons why they are such a popular exotic pet. It’s also worth noting that a Reeves Turtle is unlikely to reach a size longer than 6-inches when fully grown. 


Once hatched, baby Reeves Turtles will spend most of their time feeding in order to grow quickly. In the wild, they’ll drift on the surface of the shallow waters they live in and feed on algae and small aquatic organisms. 

Much like their parents, a baby Reeves Turtle will spend the majority of its life exclusively in the water. 

As soon as they reach the age of sexual maturity, Reeves Turtles will find a breeding partner, gestate for a short period, and lay their eggs. Here, the cycle begins all over again and more hatchlings are born.

On average, a Reeves Turtle will live between 10-15 years, however, some have been known to live for up to 20 years. 


Reeves Turtles are one of the most popular species of turtle and, as such, they are quite easy to find in pet stores and from specialist breeders. In terms of their population in the wild, however, things are a little different.

Reeves Turtles are listed as an endangered species in the wild and over the last 30 years, the species has disappeared from at least half of its original habitat. This is solely due to hunting, as the Reeves Turtle is used for both food and medicine in its native China. 


Reeves Turtles are omnivores and enjoy a diet of plants and animals alike. They also have a special adaptation that allows them to eat mollusks and crustaceans in the wild. 

While there is a wide range of turtle food available that is perfectly suitable for Reeves Turtles, it’s important to pay attention to the ingredients when you’re keeping a Reeves Turtle as a pet. Here are some of the things you need to ensure your chosen turtle food contains:

  • 30%-40% protein
  • Vitamin D
  • A calcium to phosphorus ratio of at least 2:1
  • A low fat content
  • Vitamin and mineral supplementation


In the wild, the number one predator of the Reeves Turtle is humans and their exploitation of them for food and medicine has seen them given an endangered species status. They also face predation from possums, raccoons, dogs, and cats. 

Roaming Range

Reeves Turtles are primarily found in Eastern Asia. Their roaming range spans China, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. They can be found living in ponds, marshes, swamps, and even in rice paddies!


There are several diseases and health issues that Reeves Turtles are susceptible to including:

  • Swollen eyes
  • Sunken eyes
  • Frothing at the mouth
  • Nose bubbles
  • Excessive basking
  • Refusal to enter the water
  • Inability or refusal to feed
  • Asymmetrical or irregular growth
  • Discoloration of the skin or shell

If you have a pet Reeves Turtle and you notice any of these issues, take them to your veterinarian immediately. 

Eye Color

Reeves Turtles have yellow or yellow-brown eyes with jet black pupils. Some have brown eyes, but this is much rarer. 


Reeves Turtles are known to be active all year round, however, they can hibernate if they choose. This takes place during the winter months and they may remain dormant for several months at a time.

They can also aestivate during the summer months when temperatures are high or there is a drought. 

In captivity, you have more control over these conditions and, as such, it’s quite rare for a pet Reeves Turtle to hibernate. 

Can They Swim?

Despite having an almost exclusive aquatic existence, Reeves Turtles aren’t very strong swimmers. For this reason, they tend to stick to shallow waters where the water is deep enough to protect them, but not so deep that they get into trouble!

For the most part, Reeves Turtles will choose to climb to the surface for air rather than swim. So, if you’re keeping a Reeves Turtle in captivity, you’re advised to keep the water shallow and offer a “beach” that allows them to get to the surface easily without having to swim. 


Reeves Turtles aren’t considered as high-maintenance pets, which is one of the reasons why they are so popular. They are an especially good choice for a new reptile owner looking for an easy to care for turtle.

They need a large tank that is filled with shallow water. The depth of the water should be at least one and a half times the length of their shell at all times. They also require a good turtle food that features all of the nutritional information listed earlier. 

When given the correct care, you can expect a Reeves Turtle to live for up to 15 years. 


Reeves Turtles are fairly affordable pets, and you can get a hatchling for around $55. Older Reeves Turtles that measure around 4-5 inches will cost a little more than a hatchling, usually around the $75 mark.

The cost of the turtle itself is only one of the things you need to consider, though. You also need to purchase a suitable tank, a heating element for basking, and turtle food. These things combined can come to around $300 – 500. 

Fun Facts

What to know even more about the Reeves Turtle? Here are some fun facts:

  • The scientific name for the Reeves Turtle is Mauremys reevesii
  • They are also known as the Chinese Three-Keeled Pond Turtle
  • Reeves Turtles are quite poor swimmers, which is why they live in shallow waters 
  • While Reeves Turtles are omnivorous, hatchlings eat more animal-based food than adults. They will feast on worms, insects, and fish before moving to a more balanced diet later in life.