Black wood turtle

The largest of all wood turtles

Hans Hillewaert

A medium to large-sized turtle predominantly found in Central America, extending from Costa Rica to Colombia. As its name suggests, this species typically exhibits a deep, dark coloration ranging from a true black to a dark brown, especially noticeable in younger specimens. The color may lighten with age or due to environmental factors, but the richness of the hue remains one of this species’ most distinguishing features.

The facial markings of the black wood turtle are particularly striking, with a jaw that often shows a golden hue punctuated by black spots. These spots can sometimes trail upwards, creating a dappled effect on the sides of the face, which adds to their visual appeal and individuality. The limbs are not left out of this color play; they often display a speckling of lighter tones, contrasting the darker colors of the shell and body.

Black wood turtles are indeed omnivorous, showing a preference for a diet that includes a variety of invertebrates, such as earthworms, redworms, and crickets. When the opportunity arises, this species also consumes small vertebrates, including mice. Additionally, their diet comprises a lot of plant matter, such as fallen fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens, which they forage in their natural habitat.

These turtles are considered one of the more cognitively advanced species of turtles, displaying behaviors that suggest a higher level of problem-solving ability and adaptability. This intelligence and their generally calm and non-aggressive demeanor make them particularly appealing in the pet trade. They are known to be quite interactive with their keepers, which can make them rewarding pets.


Population est.
Costa Rica

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No