Black-Breasted Leaf Turtle

Black-Breasted Leaf Turtle Geoemyda spengleri

Type of Animal:

Forests, woodlands, forest streams

N Vietnam, SE China, Laos, Cambodia

Shell ranges from yellowish-brown to dark-brown to grayish-black or combo of colors, 3 keels run down carapace (upper shell) w/ middle one resembling leaf midrib, shell has leaf-like appearance, noticeable big owl-like eyes, noticeable beak, males have white irises/females have light brown irises, males have bigger longer tails/longer carapace/more concave plastron (bottom shell), reddish-grayish legs, partially webbed feet, pronounced hook on upper jaw

Insects, insect larvae, worms, grubs, snails, slugs, fruit, baby mice, berries, carrion, crustaceans, minnows, vegetables, greens, flowers

Status in Wild:

Breeding in zoos, aquariums, breeding centers, & herpetoculture


Additional Info:

Young: Hatchling
Group: Solitary

Male: 3.17-4.4 oz
Female: 5.29-6.70 oz
Young: 0.79 oz

3-4 months

Life Span:
20 years

Body Length:
Male: 3.5-4 in
Female: 4 in
Young: 1.57 in

Tail Length:
Male: Longer/thicker
Female: Thinner/shorter

Main predators are carnivorous/omnivorous mammals.
Clutch size small w/ only 1-2 eggs being laid. Females lay 1-3 times a year.
Endangered due to over-collection for food/medicine/pet trade, water pollution, habitat loss, & deforestation.
Also called Vietnamese Black-Breasted Leaf Turtle, Vietnamese Leaf Turtle, Black-Breasted Hill Turtle, Indo-Chinese Serrated Turtle, Spengler’s Turtle, Scalloped Leaf Turtle, Vietnamese Wood Turtle, & Chinese Leaf Turtle.
These turtles are primarily terrestrial but enter water to soak/drink/poop.
Camouflage used as mechanism to hide from mammalian predators as well as catch prey.
One of the smallest turtles in the world.
Not seen in west until 1961.
They’re rather curious & inquisitive turtles.
Much of their time spent buried beneath leaf litter.

Fun Fact(s):
Like all turtles, they can’t leave their shells.
Surprisingly good climbers w/ beak hook often used as assistance.
Spengleri part of scientific name in honor of Danish naturalist Lorenz Spengler.
Desired as pets due to appearance, especially owl-like eyes.
Eyes can move independently of each other & watch 2 things at same time.
When prey item detected, they’ll fix both eyes on target, keeping both eyes there even when vision of 1 eye obstructed.
They’ve been known to sit motionless for hours.
Black-Breasted Leaf Turtle, Brookfield Zoo, taken by me

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