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Asian Leaf Turtle Fact File

Cyclemys dentata

Credit: Wibowo Djatmiko (Wie146), CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Weight

1.5kg

(3.3lbs)

Length

15-24cm

(6-9.6in)

Lifespan

Wild 14 years

Captive 14 years

Diet

Omnivore

Plants, Insects

Conservation Status

IUCN

Near Threatened

The Asian leaf turtle is named for the shell on their back which is said to resemble a leaf. It is flat along its length and has serrated edges at the rear with raised keels on the scales along the back.

As their name suggests the species can be found in waterways of South-East Asia.

These animals are considered omnivores with their diet including a range of animal and plant matter.

A range of threats are facing this species including habitat loss and collection for both food and the pet trade locally and internationally.

Read on to learn more about these remarkable reptiles.

Appearance

What does the Asian leaf turtle look like?

Asian leaf turtles have an oval-shaped carapace (shell) on their back which is colored dark brown. At its rear the edges are serrated and raised keels are present along the center. Overall the shell is flat. The underside of the shell, known as the plastron is patterned with radiating lines.

The head of the Asian leaf turtle is colored reddish brown. Their legs are colored light or reddish brown.

Their feet are semi-webbed, an adaptation which allows these animals to be successful swimmers.

An average Asian leaf turtle measures between 15 and 24cm (6-9.6in) long with a weight of 1.5kg (3.3lbs). Males tend to be smaller than females though their tail is thicker than that of females. Their shell may measure 11.4-16.5cm (4.5-6.5in) across.

Diet

What does the Asian leaf turtle eat?


Asian leaf turtles are omnivores. Their diet includes a range of plant and animal matter. Animal matter consumed may include invertebrates and tadpoles. Carrion is also taken.

Asian leaf turtle

Credit: Wibowo Djatmiko (Wie146), CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Range

Where can you find the Asian leaf turtle?

Asia is the native home of the Asian leaf turtle. Here they can be found in the following countries – Indonesia; Malaysia; Philippines; Singapore and Thailand.

Habitat

What kind of environment does the Asian leaf turtle live in?

Asian leaf turtles will make their home in forests and wetlands. They spend much of their time in water including streams, swamps and wetlands.

Their habitat is regularly converted to palm oil plantations but these are too open and dry to act as suitable habitat for the species.

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Reproduction

How does the Asian leaf turtle produce its young?

Each year they may produce as many as 5 clutches of eggs with between 2 and 4 eggs in clutch. Females will dig a chamber in to which these eggs can be deposited. To allow the female to lay her eggs the plastron will become flexible.

Their eggs hatch after a 2.5 month incubation period.

Hatchlings are equipped with spines around the edge of the carapace which are thought to deter predators.

Behavior

What does the Asian leaf turtle do with its day?

Juveniles are almost exclusively aquatic but as they grow these animals will begin to spend more of their time on the land.

Asian leaf turtle

Credit: Len Worthington, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Predators and Threats

What is impacting the survival of the Asian leaf turtle?

When threatened an Asian leaf turtle will pull its head and legs back inside the shell. Their shell is hinged and so once they have retreated in the shell they can raise it to close the holes. Few animals can breach this barrier.

They may swim to the bottom of a river and hide among the mud when threatened.

The population of the Asian leaf turtle is believed to be declining. They are often found in the food trade and to be sold as pets. Habitat loss is another major threat mainly for conversion of the land to palm oil plantations.

Quick facts

These animals may also be known as the Asian leaf terrapin, brown stream terrapin or common leaf turtle.

Their name is taken from the vaguely leaf shape to their shell.

Asian leaf turtle

Credit: Wibowo Djatmiko (Wie146), CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

References

Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK

Jackson, T. and Chinery, M., 2012. The illustrated encyclopedia of animals of the world. London: Southwater.

As-singkily, M., Guntoro, J., Kusrini, M.D. & Schoppe, S. 2021. Cyclemys dentataThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2021: e.T195849722A2929066. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2021-1.RLTS.T195849722A2929066.en. Downloaded on 25 September 2021.

Baker, N., 2021. Asian Leaf Terrapin – Cyclemys dentata. [online] Ecologyasia.com. Available at: <https://www.ecologyasia.com/verts/turtles/asian-leaf-terrapin.htm> [Accessed 25 September 2021].

Thai National Parks. 2021. Cyclemys dentata, Asian leaf turtle. [online] Available at: <https://www.thainationalparks.com/species/asian-leaf-turtle> [Accessed 25 September 2021]. Genomics.senescence.info. 2021. Asian leaf turtle (Cyclemys dentata) longevity, ageing, and life history. [online] Available at: <https://genomics.senescence.info/species/entry.php?species=Cyclemys_dentata> [Accessed 25 September 2021].

Learn About Nature. 2021. Asian Leaf Turtle – Sold for Pet Trade, Food, Or Traditional Medicine – Learn About Nature. [online] Available at: <https://www.learnaboutnature.com/animals/turtles/asian-leaf-turtle/> [Accessed 25 September 2021].

Borneohappyfarm.com. 2021. [online] Available at: <https://www.borneohappyfarm.com/copy-of-malayan-box-turtle> [Accessed 25 September 2021].

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