Platysternon – Big-headed turtle

Heads so large that cannot even be withdrawn into the shells

A unique and ancient reptile species native to the lowland marshes and waterways of China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. These turtles are distinguished by their striking yellow-to-brown coloration and notably large, flattened triangular heads adorned with strong jaws and a prominent beak, setting them apart from other aquatic reptiles.

In adulthood, big-headed turtles exhibit an omnivorous diet, consuming various food sources, including vegetation and mollusks, and occasionally scavenging on carrion. This diverse diet reflects their adaptability to various aquatic environments and highlights their role as herbivores and opportunistic feeders within their ecosystems.

Despite their unique characteristics, big-headed turtles face significant threats across their range, leading to population declines and local extinctions in many areas. Habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation due to human activities such as urbanization, agriculture, and infrastructure development pose significant challenges to the survival of this species. Additionally, illegal collection for the exotic pet trade further exacerbates their decline, with big-headed turtles fetching high prices in illegal wildlife markets.

Conservation efforts to protect big-headed turtle populations are crucial for ensuring their survival in the wild. Initiatives focusing on habitat restoration, protected area management, and community-based conservation are essential for safeguarding the remaining populations of this species. Furthermore, combatting illegal wildlife trade through enforcement of regulations and raising awareness about preserving biodiversity is paramount for curbing further declines in big-headed turtle populations.