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Yellow-Spotted Amazon River Turtle

Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House

Did You Know?

  • Yellow-spotted river turtles are side-necked turtles; they cannot hide their heads in their shells.
  • They are born with big yellow spots, but those shrink as the turtles grow. Females eventually lose their spots altogether.
  • These are long-lived turtles. Some have been known to live up to 70 years.

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Scientific Name: Podocnemis unifilis

Class: Reptiles

Diet: Vegetation and Small Animals

Range: Amazonian South America

Endangered Status: Vulnerable

More Information

Yellow-spotted river turtles are among the largest turtles in South America. They are native to the Amazon River and its tributaries and get their name from yellow head markings found on males and juvenile females. They are otherwise gray. Females are larger, growing to 27 inches long and 6.5 pounds in weight.

These turtles are most active in mid-morning and afternoon. They tend to avoid fast-moving water. Males court females by nipping their feet and tails. Females lay 15–25 eggs in shallow nests dug into riverbanks, and those eggs are incubated for two months. Young yellow-spotted turtles are smaller than a quarter at birth.

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