The Reeves' (or coin) turtle is the Asian version of our spotted, bog, and wood turtles. For a long time listed in the genus Geoclemys, it is now referred to as Chinemys reevesii. They occur in southern China, through
the Yangtze Valley down to Canton, and in Korea, Taiwan and Japan.
Reeves' turtle is a small semi-terrestrial, usually 4 - 5 inches long, but Pritchard reports that some may get to
be well over a foot long and as much as 15 inches is possible. My females are the Japanese race, and are 7 - 8 inches
long and still growing.
The carapace of a Reeves' turtle has three well defined keels from front to back. Most of the Japanese ones are
brown or gray with a yellowish plastron with dark spots. The neck has several solid or broken curved yellow lines. We
do have one very small all-black Reeves' turtle with black eyes who does not associate with any of the others. He
usually sneaks into the water in the early evening, but mostly hides in our mondo-grass "forest" during the day.
During courtship the males pursue and swim around the females, tirelessly trying to rub snouts with them. When
getting ready to lay their eggs, the females will back-in under low plants. Unless you look closely you will only see
the plants shaking as they dig their nests. They lay clutches of 4 - 6 eggs, and the eggs hatch in about 90 days.
We incubate the eggs at about 85° F in sphagnum moss in margarine cups, with the lid on tight until they pip. Of
course we don't always see the females lay, so we regularly get hatchlings popping up in the pond compound.
The young seem to spend most of their time in the water and are quite carnivorous. Some of the hatchlings are poor
swimmers, so they are best kept in shallow water to avoid drownings. As they grow older and larger they spend more
time out of the water creeping under the ground cover.
The adults are omnivorous, scavenging for anything and everything. We feed them on cat chow, smelt, beef heart,
small snails, worms, Purina trout chow, and Tetra Reptomin.
They are very curious about what you do in their area, though quite shy. They will peep at you from the cover of a
bush. If you ignore them and keep on digging out weeds or planting, they will come right to your side in the hopes of
"freebies". The youngsters in the pond will swim up the incline and stand up on their hind legs and crane their necks
to see what you are doing, all the time swinging their front legs to balance. Many a time I have seen them tip too far
and flop over on their backs. They are very personable turtles, and tend to make responsive pets.
Our Reeves' turtles hibernate in the box-turtle house along with the box, wood and even some of the water turtles.
They burrow down into the dirt and wood chips we work into the floor. If they venture out in winter it is usually in
the early hours before sunrise.
Pritchard, P. C. H. (1979) The Encyclopedia of Turtles. TFH Publications Inc., Neptune, New Jersey.
Originally published in the Tortuga Gazette 27(8): 1-2, August 1991