Chinese Big-headed Turtle

Platysternon megacephalum

About This Animal

SIZE: 7.2 in (18.4 cm)

RANGE: China; Laos; Myanmar; Thailand; Viet Nam

HABITAT: Cool, rocky mountain streams

DIET: Fish, invertebrates

ON EXHIBIT:  Turtle Gallery in River Journey

Despite their appearance, these turtles are not related to snapping turtles. They use their hooked beak and long tail to navigate the streams in which they live. Big-headed turtles cannot pull their head entirely into their shell.  As a result, the tops of their head are heavily armored.  This species is part of the Tennessee Aquarium’s Asian Turtle Breeding Program.

The Chinese big-headed turtle is endangered. Turtles and tortoises across Southeast Asia have undergone massive declines in recent years due to overexploitation for the Southern Asian, particularly Chinese, food markets.