Big-headed Amazon river turtle (Peltocephalus dumerilianus)

Also known as: Big-headed sideneck
French: Peltocephale De Duméril, Podocnémide De Duméril
GenusPeltocephalus (1)
SizeCarapace length: 44 cm (2)

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2006 (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

The big-headed Amazon river turtle (Peltocephalus dumerilianus) has a grey-brown to black domed upper shell (carapace) with a keel running down its centre, which is pronounced in juveniles, but becomes lower with age. Likewise, the carapace scutes of young adults are marked with growth rings (annuli), but those of older turtles often become worn smooth. The lower shell is yellow to brown, and the neck and limbs are grey to olive. The large, triangular head is also usually grey to olive but may become noticeably white in old adults. Jaws, by contrast are tan coloured, with the upper jaw being strongly hooked and the snout protruding. All toes are webbed (2).

Found in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Peru and Venezuela (1).

This semi-aquatic species inhabits streams and rivers, and adjacent flood-plain fields, lagoons, oxbows, and swamps (2) (4).

The big-headed Amazon river turtle is an omnivorous species that feeds on fish, invertebrates, fruits and seeds, aquatic plants and algae. Hatchlings reportedly feed on fish and vegetable matter (2).

In Colombia, this turtle nests during the dry season, starting in mid-December and, in Brazil, hatching has been observed in August and September (2). Clutches contain seven to 25 eggs, which are incubated in a flask-shaped nest 12 to 24 cm deep in floodplain forests for at least 100 days (2) (4).

The threats to this species are unknown.

There are no conservation measures currently targeting this species.

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. IUCN Red List (January, 2007)
  2. Turtles of the World (CD-ROM), by Ernst, C.H., Altenburg, R.G.M. and Barbour, R.W. (February, 2007)
  3. CITES (January, 2007)
  4. (February, 2007)