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Big-headed Turtle

Platysternon megacephalum
You may be surprised to find out that the Big-headed Turtle actually isn't that large when compared to other Turtles. Their heads are just proportionally larger than the rest of their bodies (their carapaces measure only about 8in across). In fact, their heads are so large that they cannot retract them into their shells! The translation of their species name, megacephalum, or "big head," is quite appropriate.

This unusual looking Turtle is found in the fast-flowing mountain streams of China and Southeast Asia. They are actually very poor swimmers, but are excellent at climbing and grasping on to rocks. They feed during the nighttime on various underwater animals, clinging to the stream bed to move and hunt.

Sadly, the Big-headed turtle is listed as Endangered. This is because illegal hunting and collection for the pet trade have dropped their numbers significantly. Though they are legally protected in some parts of their range, the illegal capture continues, making the Turtles even more rare and thus more valuable on the black market. If the trend continues in this way they could quickly become extinct in the wild.

IUCN Status : Endangered
Location : Southeast Asia
Size : Carapace length up to 8in (20cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Reptilia -- Order : Testudines
Family : Platysternidae -- Genus : Platysternon -- Species : P. megacephalum

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