Added 19 April 2009.

Hieremys [Heosemys] annandalii

Yellow-Headed Temple Turtle


A monotypic genus that may no longer be valid as recently this species was reassigned to the genus Heosemys by one authority. H. annandalii is found in well vegetated freshwater areas including rivers, ponds, swamps, irrigation canals as well as estuaries. The common name derives from the practice (especially in Thailand) of people donating a live specimen to a Buddhist temple in the belief that this gains merit for the donor in the next life.

See Müller for husbandry details. Liat and Das record that in captivity animals thrive on water plants, fruits and various types of vegetable. Müller recorded his own specimens as being omnivorous, but probably care should be taken here as some "omnivorous" reptiles (eg Green Iguanas) should be offered an almost overwhelmingly herbivorous diet.

Species Name Common Name Location Size Notes
Hieremys [Heosemys]
H. annandalii Yellow-Headed Temple Turtle [D: Dreikielschildkröte, Malay: Kura tokong] C Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, N Malaysia 45-50cm. Freshwater, largely herbivous species. Müller records that his captive specimens did not obtain over 30cm length. Carapace: raised and rounded in juveniles, becoming elongated and flatter in adults; vertebral keel in juveniles also disappears with age; posterior margin serrated. Plastron: truncate anteriorly, notched posteriorly. Other: 2 large cusps on upper jaw with corresponding indentations on lower jaw; skin on back of forehead smooth; powerful limbs, digits fully clawed and webbed. Coloration: carapace black, sometimes with orange vertebral keel; plastron pale orange, sometimes vermiculated in grey; this pattern eventually darkens to become almost black; head dark grey to black with bright yellow lateral lines extending to neck; scales on limbs dark grey to black with orange spots in hatchlings that turn yellow by adulthood. Soft parts are pale grey. Reproduction: sexually mature males have deeply concave plastron and longer and thicker tails than females, and unusually for chelonians are larger than the females. Mating season is November-March: the nest 5-10m from the water and a clutch of 4-8 eggs laid.   


Turtles of Borneo and Peninsular Malaysia, Lim Boo Liat and Indraneil Das, Natural History Publications (Borneo), 1999.

Schildkröten, Gerhard Müller, Eugen Ullmer, Stuttgart 1995.


Back to Bagaturidae | Back to Chelonian Families | Back to Chelonians | Back to Reptiles | Back to Herps | Back to Home Page