Giant South American River Turtle

Giant South American River Turtle

Podocnemis expansa

About This Animal

SIZE: 42 inches

RANGE: Orinoco and Amazon River systems

HABITAT: River basin

DIET: Fallen fruits and vegetation, aquatic insects

ON EXHIBIT: The Flooded Amazon in River Journey

The Giant South American River Turtle is one of the largest freshwater turtles in the world! It has a long neck that it can move from side to side. Most people think turtles are slow but these turtles are very powerful swimmers.

In the wild, they are mainly herbivorous, feeding on aquatic vegetation and plant matter that falls into the water. However, it is also known to be somewhat opportunistic, feeding on small, slow-moving prey and carrion.

Mutual cleaning behaviour between individuals of this species has been observed. One turtle will position itself at right angles to a second turtle and use its jaws to pull algae from its shell. The turtles will then switch position.